As a follow-up to last night’s post about the terror arrests in Spain, our Spanish correspondent Hermes has translated several news items from today’s media reports.
First, from Atenea Digital:
The detainees from Al Qaeda were planning to attack targets in the Gibraltar strait from hang gliders or paraglide
In relation to the information given yesterday by the Interior Minister about the possibility that the three presumed jihadists could have been trained in jihadi training camps, this could have happened in the North of Waziristan (A wide border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan). Among the three suspects, the one maintaining a sentimental relationship with a Moroccan woman could be considered to be the leader of the group. This fact will have to be thoroughly investigated in order to clarify other possible Moroccan or Algerian connections.
Whether he maintained contacts with the organization called Lashkar-e-Taiba (a Pakistani terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda) or not, this Muslim of Turkish nationality could very well be a radical Salafist and also be a perfect leader for this cell, and not only a mere facilitator. If news about data having been deleted from a PC in his home turned out to be true, this could mean a greater real collaboration [having been carried out] with his Moroccan partner, thus reinforcing the previously mentioned hypothesis.
The nexus among the three suspects could have originated during their stay in Pakistan, or failing this, through a reliable contact having served as liaison through the Internet, or even by telephone or postal mail.
According to this theory, the suspect from Línea de la Concepción could be not only the presumed person in charge of the cell and interested in committing some kind of terrorist attack (he was in possession of explosives), but he could also have been engaged not only in logistic activities (acquisition and storage of weapons and explosive), but also in activities related to gathering of information and searching/determining of targets in the Province of Cádiz, in Gibraltar (English territory) and its zone of influence, that is, the docks (where nuclear submarines from the British Army had been docked), and even the airport.
This hypothesis is, together with the knowledge about the possession of explosives and the possible training in flying with hang gliders and paraglide with an adapted engine, and even in making model airplanes, is also an extremely valuable additional information about this cell regarding its real level of danger due to the fact that they could have taken flight in any time and place without having been detected by conventional air radars, thus being able to operate entirely by stealth without the knowledge of the intelligence services.
The profile of the two suspects from Eastern Europe [Russia/Caucasus] could be that of real facilitators (purchasing and selling of weapons and explosives), without scruples and remorse. If we add to this their indoctrination and their beliefs in the most violent Salafi doctrine (that of Al Qaeda and its regional groups) and their training in Pakistani training camps, their profile would the most suitable to be the real operative members responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks.
The last elements are the possible targets and received commands. Regarding the first hypothesis, we should point out the proximity (near Gibraltar), the suitability and the ease in which attacks could be committed.
Not taking into consideration the possible restriction of access to the Rock, we must not forget that we are talking about a zone which has two harbors of vital importance for the security and of a high strategic importance for Spain, Great Britain and the USA, not neglecting the commercial traffic of goods between the South of Spain and North Africa — the Kingdom of Morocco. Apart from the importance the naval base at Rota has for Spain (this will in the future be the base for the NATO missile shield), a complex which will in the future be a key NATO base, entailing a permanent presence of a huge number of troops and warships belonging to the US Navy.
One of the Jihadists under Al Qaeda’s command, the Algerian Abu Abd Al Ilah Ahmed, at the beginning of this year threatened Spain, the USA and the EU. According to this threat, AQMI’s plans for the future would involve attacks against the maritime traffic of the Gibraltar Strait, that is, any kind of maritime traffic which would prove of interest for the terrorist organization in the strait.
Al Qaeda’s main objective is the USA and the US Navy’s ship traffic through the Gibraltar Strait, apart from that of the Royal Navy (as we already pointed out), and even the naval base of Rota. Therefore, due to the lack of a suitable boat to reach the warships, the use of easy aerial means such as those already exposed, in order to commit a terrorist attack, or at least to try to commit one, against the American or British Navy, raising in this way the attention of the international public opinion, would be a great success, as it most probably is already on an international level for this terrorist organization.
An excerpt from El Mundo:
Encrypted computer material
The investigators are also decrypting the computer material seized during the operation in order to know its content, and clarify the possible plans of the three alleged terrorists detained during this operation.
In the next hours an enterprise in Gibraltar in which the alleged Turkish terrorist worked will be searched.
And an excerpt from Diario de Sevilla:
“We face the global threat of Al Qaeda. Spain is not more menaced that others, this I want to make clear,” [the Interior Minister] stressed. In this sense, he emphasized that Spain has “enough capacity” to face this threat of international terrorism working together with our allies. “We do not lower our guard and our solidarity [in this matter] with our allies,” he stressed.
The USA congratulated Spain for its “diligence” in detaining the three suspected members of Al Qaeda, and declared that it had no knowledge of any plans by the detainees to commit an attack on a national or international level. “We are in contact with the Spanish government and we appreciate the diligence of the Spanish authorities and of all our partners on a global scale in the fight against the terrorist threat,” Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the State Department, said in a press conference in Washington.
In a report about terrorist activity in the world published last Tuesday, the US State Department highlighted the threat the terrorist organization ETA poses for Spain’s security, but also the active presence in the country of “Al Qaeda-linked violent extremists”.