Spanish authorities arrested three suspected al Qaeda-linked individuals yesterday who may have been planning a terrorist attack targeting Spain or elsewhere in Europe. Among the suspects are two individuals, a Russian and a Chechen, who were detained in Ciudad Real and a Turkish man arrested in the southern city of La Linea. All reportedly appear to be in their 30s. According to Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the house in La Linea where the Turk lives was found to contain “enough explosive material to blow up a bus.” Authorities have not released information regarding potential targets or attack strategies, but reported that there were clear indications that the men were developing attack plans.
Officials say the suspects have been under watch for some time before authorities decided to take action. Police intervened as two individuals were on a bus headed toward France, signaling that they may have been looking to leave Spain. Two of the suspects were described as suspected al Qaeda operatives, who had practiced flying in light aircraft. The Turk is said to have been a facilitator. One of the individuals reportedly received military training and had to be subdued by a special operations squad during his arrest.
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2004 Madrid train bombings, Spanish authorities have arrested dozens of terrorism suspects. There is little information at this time regarding potential plot details, including targets and tradecraft. However, analysts say these arrests are significant as the individuals apparently had high levels of training and capability.
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