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Spain indicts 32 on charges tied to seeking Arab recruits

June 09, 2007|From the Associated Press

MADRID — A judge indicted 32 people Friday on charges of belonging to or collaborating with a militant group working in Spain to recruit fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Members of the Ansar al Islam group have been trying to muster volunteers among Spain's Moroccan and Algerian communities since 2004, Judge Baltasar Garzon said.

Thirteen of those indicted on charges of membership in a terrorist organization were already jailed pending the start of their trial, and Garzon ordered them to remain in custody.

Six others indicted on the same charges were still at large, and Garzon issued international arrest warrants for them. They include Khaled Abidi, who is alleged to be the leader of the group of suspects and thought to be in Syria.

Thirteen other people were charged with collaborating with Ansar al Islam. Four of them were released on bail, and the other nine were released but ordered to appear periodically before a court pending trial.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Spanish police have arrested hundreds of Islamic terrorism suspects, many in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

In recent years, security forces have focused on groups suspected of recruiting mujahedin fighters and suicide bombers, or of collecting money to finance Al Qaeda and linked groups abroad.

Twenty-nine suspects, most of them Moroccan nationals, are on trial in the Spanish capital for their alleged roles in the Madrid train attacks.

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