Spain terror plot: MEA in dark over arrest of Indians

Spain terror plot: MEA in dark over arrest of Indians
25 Jan 2008, 0259 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: There appears to be some kind of a mystery about the identity of the terror suspects in Spain. While the external affairs ministry here says there has been no word from the Spanish government on the two Indian suspects apparently arrested, reports from Spain say 10 suspects, 9 Pakistanis and one Indian had been jailed by a Spanish judge on Thursday.

“We have no information from the Spanish authorities,” the MEA spokesperson said on Thursday when asked whether Spain had granted India consular access to the suspects. Sources in the government said it was unlikely that there were any Indians among the list of suspects.

Earlier reports from Spain were also conflicting because some said there were two Indians while others said there was one Indian and one Bangladeshi. It is believed that the suspects are members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic organization many of whose members are known to have extremist links.

Spanish authorities, however, have been completely silent on the identity of the Indian suspects because even after repeated requests, there has been no official word.

According to reports, a Spanish judge said three of the original 14 persons arrested were planning an Islamist suicide terror attack in Barcelona‘s public transport system. While two were freed on Wednesday, another two were freed on Thursday. It’s not clear if the Indians have already been freed.

According to news reports, Spanish judge Ismael Moreno of the National Court ordered the detention of 10 suspects on suspicion of being an armed group after questioning them for about seven hours, Spanish newspaper El Periodico reported. The judge was quoted as saying that three of them — Mohammed Shoaib, Mehmooh Khalib and Imran Cheema — arrived in Barcelona from Pakistan between last October and mid-January intending to carry out terror strikes on Barcelona’s public transport system on January 18-20.

Reports quoted the judge as saying that two suspects, Maroof Ahmed Mirza and Mohammad Ayud Elahi Bibi, were the ideological and operational leaders of the group. The other five men sent to jail were Mohamed Tarik, Qadeer Malik, Hafeez Ahmed, Roshan Jamal Khan and Shaib Iqbal.

The role of the seven others is not clear. The nationalities of those released and those still in custody have also not been revealed. The two who were ordered to be released on Wednesday are Mohamed Imren and Sarosh Aki Mohamed.

The Spanish police chief was reported as saying, “They had the will but not the means…. We can’t take the risk of carrying out the investigation with suicide bombers and in any given moment there is an attack.”

In a 72-page ruling, the judge said the cell was operational in terms of manpower and “very close to achieving full technical capacity in terms of explosive devices”.

The cell had detonators and a small amount of explosives — not enough to carry out a major attack, but perhaps enough for “the teaching of how to handle homemade explosive devices that would limit risk to the safety of the handlers”.

“This pattern is common in Islamic extremist groups, which to carry out an attack usually send in the suicide bombers shortly before it will occur,” the judge wrote. “The arrival of these three occurred about two months after the presumed bomb-maker had returned (to Barcelona).”


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