Mon, Jan 26, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Spain arrests four suspected members of terrorist group

AP, MADRID

A helicopter carrying four alleged jihadists takes off from a heliport in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa, on Saturday. The men were arrested after police claimed to have stopped a terrorist plot.

Photo: EPA

Spanish National Police in the country’s North African enclave of Ceuta on Saturday arrested four suspected militants, who allegedly had formed a terror cell and were ready to carry out an attack, the Ministry of the Interior said.

Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz said investigators, working with their Moroccan counterparts, were struck by the similarities between the suspected cell members and the two French brothers who killed 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.

“These are two pairs of very radicalized brothers who are highly trained militarily, physically and mentally, and are prepared to carry out an attack, and ready, according to the police, to blow themselves up in the act,” Fernandez Diaz said.

Two houses in Ceuta were searched on Saturday morning in police raids, and four men, all Spanish citizens of Moroccan origin, were arrested, the agency said. Officers found an automatic pistol, ammunition, military fatigues, face-concealing hoods, Spanish vehicle license plates, large machetes, knives and documents.

The ministry said the four were following instructions given to them by al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, via what it called “a powerful and aggressive communication campaign” including Muslim militant Internet forums and Web sites.

Al-Baghdadi is the leader of the extremist Islamic State group, which controls about a third of Iraq and Syria.

Investigators were still assessing the cell’s “infrastructure to carry out terror attacks in the country,” the ministry said.

Spain and Morocco have arrested dozens of suspected Muslim militants and recruiters in recent years, especially around Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish coastal cities in North Africa that are surrounded by Morocco.

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