Raids in Spain, Italy and UK Find Terrorist Weapons Cache
Spanish police officers enter an apartment in Barcelona, Spain,
Friday, Jan. 24, 2003, several al Qaeda terror cell suspects
arrested and are being held. Some waiting extradition to France.
arrested were preparing to commit attacks with explosives and chemical
materials,” said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar after
180 Spanish police officers raided homes in the Catalonia region
to uncover “a major terrorist network…linked in this
case to the Algerian Salafist group, a splinter cell of the Armed
Islamic Group (GIA), which has clear connections with the criminal
organization of bin Laden.”
with Italy and the United Kingdom, have led a European charge in
the battle against terror over the past 3 weeks to discover shocking
information and materials that has prevented numerous attacks across
the face of Western Europe.
5th, the United Kingdom has raided government funded houses inhabited
by supposedly innocent muslim “asylum seekers”–along
with other homes–in conjunction with taking the politically touchy
step of searching a mosque in the effort to root out terror.
reportedly given by the French to British officials, officers were
able to seize evidence and stop a plot to poison British citizens
with the deadly poison ricin. Some of the Islamic extremists had
jobs or their associates had jobs involving food preparation.
another chilling discovery was made by British police detectives
in the raids of one of the homes related to the mosque: protective
clothing and gear. The protective clothing and fitted masks were
apparently designed to protect the wearer from a chemical or biological
terror attack. This equipment, along with the find of ricin, intensified
intelligence officers’ concern for the public’s safety.
Several of those
arrested in the raids over the past three weeks were from Algeria
and had only been in the country for a few months.
raid on one house conducted by British police came at a cost however
when a suspect in the Manchester raid charged at unarmed police
officers, stabbing Detective Constable Stephen Oake to death and
wounding four others. Three North African suspects were arrested.
Branch detective constable was buried Sunday in Manchester. His
family–including his wife Lesley and their three children–mourned
with thousands who gathered at Manchester Cathedral to honor his
memory and to pray. DC Stephen Oake’s father told mourners that
the family is drawing strength from their strong Christian faith.
He said, "People who believe in God never meet for the last
suspect in Oake’s murder is 27-year-old North African, Kamel Bourgas.
He has been charged in a London court for DC Oake’s murder and the
attempted murder of four other officers that were with Oakes the
day of the raid.
In the Spanish
Raids, Spanish police organized the pre-dawn raids on several homes
last week that resulted in the arrests of 19 al Qaeda terror cell
suspects in the Catalonia region near Barcelona.
Polanco, Investigating Magistrate, held court on Sunday, ordering
the al Qaeda terror suspects to be held behind bars.
The jailed terror
suspects are found to have links to the Islamic terror suspects
arrested earlier in France and Britain. Spain’s intelligence began
the anti-terror operation in Catalonia over a year ago when Spain’s
High Court authorized wiretaps. France had also provided intelligence
to the operation.
France is expected
to seek extradition of al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Spain.
In Italy, five
Moroccans were arrested after a routine search for illegal immigrants
turned up 2.2 pounds of explosives, maps and addresses of NATO interests,
and a map with a circle around London, authorities told ANSA news
Carabinieri, paramilitary police, escort outside the Carabinieri
station, one of the five Moroccans arrested in Badia Polesine,
near Rovigo, northern Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003. Police
arrested the men near the northern city of Rovigo after discovering
explosives and maps highlighting Padua’s Basilica del Santo
and the NATO base in Verona in their apartment.
Mattoschi / AP
officials have stepped up security at sensitive sites and tourist
In the city
of Rovigo, southwest of Venice, police found C-4 explosives, some
reportedly stuffed in socks. The al Qaeda terror suspects had turned
a farmhouse into a mosque.
reports state that the explosives found at the farmhouse are similar
to those used in the terror bombing attack in Bali that killed vacationing
Australians, British citizens and Americans.
ages 28-41 reportedly were employed and included a religious leader
of Rovigo’s Muslim community, Reduane Bnoughazi, 32. They are being
charged with possessing explosives police said. They are facing
8 years or more in prison.
General John Ashcroft, who was in meetings with the Italian Justice
Minister on Thursday in Rome, said Italy’s war on terror and the
subsequent arrests of terror suspects demonstrates ”tangible evidence
that Italy takes terrorism seriously and fights it aggressively."
Qaeda’s Other Basecamp: Iraq
As the war against
terror continues in many forms globally, all eyes are on the Iraqi
threat. Intelligence sources say al Qaeda leaders in Iraq continue
to plot terror and organize with Saddam to attack various targets
Iraq is a virtual
distribution network of terror. Sources say weapons materials have
been distributed from Iraq to cells with directions or recipes on
how to attack using chemical or biological weapons. One of the 9-11
terrorists, Mohammad Atta, sought treatment for chemical burns to
his hands and arms in Florida prior to hijacking a U.S. passenger
jet and slamming it into the World Trade Center.
inspectors continue to attempt substantive progress in exposing
and determining the magnitude of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction
and the bizarre behavior of Iraqi scientists, who refuse to be alone
with UN inspectors or to leave with them as inspectors had initially
hoped, are adding to the pressure governments with intelligence
evidence are experiencing.
a Course of Action
in Switzerland, US Secretary Powell addressed 2,300 government and
business leaders at the World Economic Forum on the gravity of Saddam’s
cover up of weapons built for terror. "Saddam should tell the
truth now, " said Powell, "The more we wait, the more
chance there is for this dictator with clear ties to terrorist groups
(including al Qaeda) … to pass a weapon, share technology, or
use these weapons again."
with inference to dictatorships like Saddam’s "we have seen
these sorts of evil leaders before." "We have seen them
throughout history. And they are still alive today. There are still
leaders around who will say, ‘You do not have the will to prevail
over my evil.’ And I think we are facing one of those times now."
with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday morning, Russia’s President
Putin insists that the UN arms inspectors must have more time.
Debkafile, Israeli National Security Council head Halevy
visited Moscow over the weekend with new evidence of Iraq’s involvement
in master plots to carry out ‘mega-terror plans’ for the Middle
East and European countries, however the Russian President, along
with France, Germany and China, want to the UN inspectors to continue
Hans Blix, told
the UN that Iraq had not been fully cooperative, saying the process
seems to be less of "declare and verify," and more of
a game of "hide and seek."
British U.N. observers were threatened by a Kuwaiti army soldier
at a military checkpoint near the border with Iraq. According to
the AP, the Kuwaiti soldier pointed a gun at the two Brits, said
something to them in Arabic, laughed, and walked away leaving them
shaken but unharmed.