Spanish police claim terrorist cell was planning suicide attacks in Europe

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The Independent Online

Police in Spain claimed yesterday to have smashed a terrorist cell linked to Osama bin Laden that was involved in planned suicide attacks against American targets in Europe.

There is speculation that some of the men may have met Mohamed Atta – one of the key hijackers involved in the 11 September attacks – when he visited Spain this summer.

At least 11 of the hijackers who carried out the suicide attacks in America also passed through Britain and may have stayed here, according to information given to Scotland Yard by the FBI.

Amid growing signs that European governments are involved in an aggressive and co-ordinated campaign against terrorism, Spain said six Algerians were seized in cities throughout the country and held on suspicion of forging documents and raising funds for Islamic terrorists.

The Spanish Interior Minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey, said the Algerians were alleged members of Daawa Wal Jihad (The Salafist Group for Call and Combat) – a faction of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and one of the groups whose assets were frozen this week by President George Bush for having links to Mr bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida network.

Mr Rajoy said: "Behind this network and these groups is the organisation of the Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden that gives them financial support, organises training of their members in camps he controls, and gives them targets."

Meanwhile, as the UN appealed for help to enable 7.5m Afghan refugees to survive the winter, the Taliban leader told his people to stay put. Mullah Mohammad Omar ordered them to return home, saying an attack from America was unlikely. "[They] have no reason or justification for attacking," he said.

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