Skip to comments.Australian links to Spanish terror cell
Posted on 10/19/2004 11:47:14 AM PDT by knighthawk
ASIO last night asked Spanish authorities to provide details of Australian phone numbers contacted by a group of seven alleged Islamic terrorists arrested across Spain on Monday.
The calls were believed to have been placed by members of the alleged terror cell to numbers in Sydney and Melbourne in the past two months. Spanish national police allege that the group was planning to bomb Spain's highest court, possibly with help from the separatist terror group ETA.
They believe some of the men were directly linked to the key organiser of the Madrid train bombings in March.
Plans for the new blast were uncovered when police tapped phones used by the seven men.
Police were acting on information provided by a mosque elder to the Moroccan Secret Service.
Calls were also made from the group to numbers in the US and Europe.
Spanish investigators claim that remaining elements of the Madrid bombing cell had tried to recruit suicide bombers from Muslims serving short prison sentences.
The arrests mark the second time an Australian link to a Spanish terror cell has been alleged. Late last year, the Sydney-based Islamic firebrand, Sheikh Abdul Salam Zoud, was alleged to have been in phone contact with the leader of al-Qa'ida in Europe, Abu Dahdah, who is now detained in Spain. Sheikh Zoud has denied the claim.
But links between Spanish militants and alleged jihadis in southeast Asia have emerged over the past two years.
The first known contact occurred in mid-2002 when Spaniard Parlindungan Siregar turned up at a militant training camp in the Indonesian province of Sulawesi.
In March 2003, regional terror tsar Hambali was arrested holding a forged Spanish passport. And in March this year, Spanish police claimed that one of the Madrid bombers made a series of phone calls to the inner circle of accused Indonesian terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir, whom Australia believes is the spiritual leader of Jemmah Islamiah. The bomber later died in a suicide explosion when cornered by police.
The men arrested on Monday were identified as Ismail Latrech, Mourad Yala, Magid Mchmacha, Ali Omar, Djamel Merabet, Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed and an illegal immigrant known as Mehdi.
The Australian Federal Police expects to receive today advice about the phone numbers and addresses of the numbers called.
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