Spanish judge frees 5 terror suspects

Story highlights

  • Court doesn't find "important transfers of money" to Algeria so far, judge says
  • 5 men must report to authorities twice a month
  • Spain has been concerned for years about al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
A Spanish judge released from prison Saturday five Algerian men arrested for suspected Islamic terrorist activities, but ordered them to report to authorities twice a month and not leave Spain, according to a copy of the court order viewed by CNN.
The suspects, aged 36 to 49, were arrested Tuesday for allegedly providing logistical and financial support for terrorist activities in North Africa, an Interior Ministry statement said.
But National Court Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska said in the ruling that the court had not found "so far, important transfers of money to Algeria and with the direct participation of those under investigation."
The ruling followed closed-door arraignments at the court, which handles cases of terrorism, on Saturday.
Some 150 Civil Guards took part in the arrest operation last Tuesday, making nearly simultaneous arrests and conducting searches of homes and premises linked to the suspects in two towns of northern Guipuzcoa province and two others in neighboring Navarra province, the ministry statement said.
The judge wrote that the arrests were part of a years-long investigation in the northern region of Navarra that previously had led to the arrests, and in some cases, convictions of other North African men for links to terrorism.
The judge wrote that at least one of the five suspects in the latest case had regular contact with a suspect in a previous case.
But he said authorities would need to investigate further, and that the evidence at hand was not enough to hold the suspects in prison.
Spanish authorities have said repeatedly in the past few years that a group known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is of key concern, because of its operational base in northern Africa, just across the Mediterranean Sea from Spain and southern Europe.
Earlier this month, Civil Guards arrested a Cuban man on Spain's Mallorca Island in the Mediterranean for allegedly recruiting and indoctrinating others for Islamic terrorist activities.
A judge released the suspect from custody after his arraignment several days later, but ordered him to report daily to police while authorities investigate computer documentation seized when he was detained.
Since the Madrid train bombings of 2004 that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 others, Spanish police have arrested more than 400 suspected al Qaeda militants or collaborators, the Interior Ministry website says. Most have been of North African or Middle Eastern origin, with a few from Latin America.