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Monday, February 12, 2007


Madrid, 12 Feb. (AKI) - Al-Qaeda has allegedly established a training base in the sub-Saharan scrub country running from Senegal to Ethiopia known as the Sahel and camps in Mauritania, Mali and Niger are those posing the greatest threat to Europe, according to security experts cited by Spanish daily El Pais in an in-depth article. Militants recruited in Spain, especially in the northeast region of Catalonia.

A Moroccan activist, Mbar El Jaafari, arrested last week in the port city of Tarragona south of Barcelona, sent the jihadis recruited by al-Qaeda in Spain have been sent for training in the Sahel camps, according to El Pais.

The militants have heavy weapons, ground-to-air missiles, and satellite phones, and the jihadis recruited in Spain learn to how to use explosives and also poisons, the paper reported.

European security services are on alert to the the proximity of these alleged new al-Qaeda training camps to Europe. Concern is especially great in France and Spain - where many militants from the al-Qaeda linked north African Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) formation are based.

The GSPC last month renamed itself 'al-Qaeda in the Maghreb'. While the GSPC - a splinter group of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) has always had its stronghold in Algeria, it has now found 'allies' in the impoverished countries of Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad.

In late January, anti-terrror prosecutors from Morocco, France and Spain signed an accord in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, agreeing to a 'real time' exchange of intelligence data on al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda 'sleeper' cells are present in Spain, France Italy and Great Britain but also in Afghanistan and Chechnya. In Europe, the cells are primarly engaged in recruitment of new jihadis and terror financing, El Pais said.
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