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Spain arrests suspected Islamic extremists

  • Story Highlights
  • Two men arrested in Spanish enclave of Melilla, near Morocco
  • One accused of involvement in bombing that killed 33 in Casablanca
  • The other is believed to have been trying to buy arms
  • Arrest warrants were issued after Morocco broke up terror network last February
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From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spanish police Tuesday arrested two Moroccan men suspected of having links to Islamic terrorism, Spain's Ministry of Interior said, including one man wanted in connection with attacks in Casablanca in 2003.

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Mohamed El Bay is thought to have been trying to buy weapons and explosives.

The arrests were made in Melilla, a Spanish enclave of about 68,000 people on Morocco's Mediterranean coast, with Spanish Civil Guards acting on international arrests warrants issued by Morocco, the ministry said in a written statement.

Moroccan authorities have linked one of the suspects, Ali Aarass, to the Casablanca bombings in May 2003 that killed 33 bystanders and 12 suicide bombers.

He is suspected of Islamic extremist activities during the past 16 years, the Spanish statement said.

The other man, Mohamed El Bay, is wanted for alleged involvement with a terrorist network that Moroccan police broke up last February, when they arrested 30 people suspected of plotting attacks against Moroccan government targets, it said.

Moroccan police seized numerous weapons in the February raids and later contacted European police for help in locating other suspects in the group.

Morocco authorities believe El Bay may have been in charge of contacting Central European arms smugglers to get weapons and explosives for the alleged plot in Morocco, the Spanish statement said.

Spanish police searched the homes of both suspects in Melilla and seized documentation, it said.

Spain has arrested more than 300 suspected Islamic extremists since the Madrid train bombings of 2004 that killed 191 people, although not all of the suspects remain in jail. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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