7 terrorist suspects to remain in Spain jail
From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge has ordered seven Islamic terrorist suspects who were arrested this week to remain in jail on charges of recruiting an Algerian suicide bomber who later killed 19 Italians in Iraq, a National Court spokeswoman told CNN Saturday.
A decision on 12 other suspects, out of the total of 20 arrested Tuesday, should be made by Sunday after their arraignments are held, the spokeswoman said. The suspects were being arraigned before two judges at the National Court, which handles cases of terrorism.
Starting late Friday, eight suspects were arraigned before Judge Fernando Andreu. He remanded seven of them to jail and released the eighth, who still faces charges in the case, said the spokeswoman.
The eight are accused of formed a terrorist cell linked to al Qaeda, based near Barcelona in the town of Vilanova y la Geltru, the spokeswoman said.
The judge identified the leader of the cell as Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi, she said. The group allegedly recruited an Algerian man, Belgacem Bellil, who allegedly carried out a suicide bombing November 12, 2003, against an Italian military base in Nasiriya, Iraq. That attack killed 12 Italian military police, five troops and two Italian civilians, along with nine Iraqis.
Belgacem was sent to Iraq to be under the orders of the al Qaeda group there led by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the spokeswoman said, citing the judge's summary of the findings.
The same cell allegedly sent two other fighters to Syria, the spokeswoman said, and routinely met in the mosque in Vilanova y la Geltru, along with other locations.
The cell routinely met in the mosque in Vilanova y la Geltru, along with other locations in that town. One of the seven suspects remanded to jail was Mohamed Samadi, the imam of the local mosque. He preached a radical brand of Islam and collected funds in the mosque for terrorist ends, the spokeswoman said.
The seven suspects remanded to jail were identified as suspected leader, Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi; his brother, Mounir Mrabet Fahsi; Mohamed Said Hssisni, the local imam; Hassan Mourdoude, a would-be "holy warrior" who went to Syria, was detained and deported to Morocco but then managed to return to Spain to rejoin the cell; Mustafa Fawzi Ait Oudriss, Mustapha Es Satty and Abdelhak Boudina.
Twelve other suspects arrested Tuesday were being arraigned by Judge Fernando Grande-Malarska over the weekend.
The 20 suspects allegedly formed two cells -- the one based in Vilanova y la Geltru that recruited and sent would-be suicide bombers to Iraq, and another based in Madrid that sent so-called "holy warriors" to fight in the insurgency in Iraq, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said Tuesday.
The suspects included 16 Moroccans, three Spaniards, a Turk and an Algerian, authorities said.
On the heels of the arrests on Tuesday, police last Thursday arrested the suspected leader of the two alleged cells, Omar Nakhcha, a 23-year-old Moroccan.
The Spanish Interior Ministry said Nakhcha's cells allegedly helped three key suspects in the 2004 Madrid train bombings to escape Spain after those attacks. Nakhcha's arraignment is expected next week at National Court.
Authorities said some of the 20 suspects arrested on Tuesday also allegedly provided financing, forged documents and other logistical support to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and also to the Algerian-based Salafist Group for Call and Combat.
The Spanish cells also had links to terrorists in France, Belgium, Holland, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, Alonso said.
Last month, Spanish police arrested 18 suspected Islamic terrorists, also on suspicion of recruiting "holy warriors" to fight against Western forces in Iraq. A judge later filed preliminary charges against all of them but ordered only six of the 18 to remain in jail.
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