Monday, 3 October 2011

Spain judge frees 5 suspected of financing terror

 

Five Algerians suspected of financing al-Qaida's North African branch have been freed by a judge who said there was no significant evidence against them. The judge ordered the men to stay in Spain, report to judicial authorities twice a month and declare any change of address. The men are being investigated on suspicion of providing logistical and financial support to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. The arrests took place Tuesday in the northern Basque and Navarra regions. Mohamed Talbi, Hakim Anniche, Mounir Aoudache, Abdelghaffour Bensaoula and Ahmed Benchohra have not been charged. National Court Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska said Saturday that there was no evidence the men had sent "significant sums to Algeria" or that the recipients were "persons related to terrorist activity." The five men had also been under investigation on suspicion of maintaining contacts with radical Islamists in France, Italy and Switzerland. Police seized a large amount of documents and computer material as part of their probe. AQIM operates in Algeria and emerged in the 1990s from armed groups fighting the Algerian government after the army stepped in to cancel the 1991 elections in a bid to stave off a victory by an Islamist political party. The group declared allegiance to al-Qaida in 2006, changed its name and renewed a campaign of bombings and kidnappings across the Sahara. AQIM is currently holding four French hostages, and French officials have called it the biggest terror threat to France and its interests. Dozens of suspected radical Islamic militants have been arrested in Spain since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington, and again after the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid.

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