Thursday, June 05, 2008

Islamists charged over Barcelona and Germany plots

By Jason Webb

MADRID (Reuters) Thu 5 Jun 2008

A Spanish court charged 11 Islamists on Thursday with offences related to suicide bombings which it said they had been planning in Barcelona and Germany.
A High Court document said 10 of the men had been on the brink of carrying out suicide bombings on public transport in Barcelona when they were arrested in Spain's second-largest city in January.

The court also requested an international arrest warrant for a Pakistani who it said had travelled from Spain to Germany to carry out a suicide attack on an unidentified target but then left for the Netherlands without doing so.
Ten of the men were born in Pakistan and one in India, the court said, and all were members of Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement.
All were charged with being members of a terrorist conspiracy and eight were also charged with possessing explosives, although the court said they did not have enough to cause large explosions.
The accused could face up to about 20 years in prison if found guilty of both offences.
"The cell was planning several terrorist suicide attacks from 18-20 January on the public transport system of the city of Barcelona," the High Court said.
It said several of the men had arrived in Spain shortly before their arrests -- from Pakistan, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Portugal.
"This pattern is common among Islamic extremist groups, who often move in the suicide bombers shortly before a terrorist attack," the court said.
Islamists were behind bombings that killed 191 people on trains in Madrid in March 2004. The attack contributed to a surprise election victory for Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who later pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.
Many commentators said involvement in the Iraq war had made Spain a target, but police have since broken up several other plots, including a planned attack on the High Court.
Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called for Muslims to recover the Spanish possessions of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa, as well as Al Andalus, the name for much of Spain during centuries of Muslim control.

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