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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Terrorism: Spain monitoring Chechen and Colombian suspects

Madrid, 28 Feb. (AKI) - Spanish police say several Chechen and Colombian terror suspects have entered the country over the past two months, and believe the Chechens may have fled Russia after an attack, Spanish daily El Mundo reports. The police also believe that fighters from the leftwing Colombian Farc guerrilla movement have entered Spain, using false Venezuelan documents.

Investigators are concentrating on southern Spain, especially the Andalucia region and the Costa del Sol, according to El Mundo. Nearly two years after the deadly 11 March 2004 train bombings in Madrid, which killed 191 people and injured nearly 1,000, Spain remains on high terror alert.

Spanish police have arrested more than 100 people in connection with the Madrid attacks, many of whom were Moroccans. Many of those detained have been freed. No-one has yet been tried in connection with the bombings, and no trial date has yet been announced.

Islamist militants claimed the attack as revenge for Spain's deployment of troops in the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In the run-up to the second anniversary of the bombings, Spanish daily El Pais has been publishing a series of classified Spanish intelligence documents, some of which indicate that the government of Jose Maria Aznar was warned of the Madrid train bombings four months before the attack.

Intelligence agents warned of the danger represented by Algerian Allekema Lamari, who was identified as one of the members of the cell that masterminded the attacks. Lamari, who was arrested but released due to a 'judicial error', sought to organise a terror attack on Spain, classified documents show.

Earlier this month, Spanish investigators announced they have now gathered fingerprint and DNA evidence enabling them to pinpoint 11 identified suspects at locations linked to the Madrid train bombings, El Pais reported. Most of these individuals are now dead or under arrest.

Investigation of the Madrid bombings has overlappped with that of extremist Islamic cells in the country, one of which was recently broken up in southern Spain. According to La Vangardia newspaper, these cells form a network inside and outside Spain. The Madrid train bombings may have been organised by a cell that held meetings in the city for years.

The meetings may have been attended by terror suspects from the Casablanca suicide bombings in Morocco in May, 2003, which killed 33 civilians. Participants at the meetings may also have included members of the al-Qaeda linked cell in Spain that police broke up in 2001 in 'Operation Date', as well as the cell police smashed last year which allegedly sent mujahadeen to carry out terrorist attacks in Iraq.
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