Madrid: Six Pakistanis and a Nigerian
suspected of providing forged passports to Lashkar-e-Taiba and
groups linked to al Qaeda, in particular those behind the 2008
attacks in Mumbai, have been arrested by Spanish police, the
interior ministry said on Wednesday.
Three others -- two Pakistanis and a Thai national --
were held in Thailand as part of the same Operation Kampai, it
said in a statement.
Officers detained the suspects in raids in and around
the north-eastern city of Barcelona late on Tuesday.
The gang stole documents, including passports, which
were sent to Thailand to be forged and then delivered to
al Qaeda-linked "terrorist groups," in particular the
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba that has been accused of
plotting the Mumbai attacks, it said.
Ten militants killed at least 166 people in three days
of violence in the Indian city in November, 2008.
The gang also supplied the defeated Sri Lankan
separatist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the
"In total, seven people have been arrested in
Barcelona (six Pakistanis and a Nigerian), all for belonging
to a cell providing documentation for terrorist organisations
linked to al Qaeda,” it said.
"The international structure was led by a Pakistani
citizen living in Thailand and who has been detained, who
directed the cells based in Europe, decided the features of
the passports to obtain and, which once they were received in
Bangkok, supplied them to different terrorist groups.
During the investigation, which began a year and a
half ago, police "have detected a number of stolen passports
taken from Spain to Thailand, which were stolen almost
entirely in the province of Barcelona from tourists who met
the requirements stipulated by the `World Islamic Front` in
order to be used by members of different terrorist cells
linked to al Qaeda," the statement said.
It said the operation had "neutralised a vast cell"
involved in providing passports for al Qaeda.
In the raids, police also seized stolen passports, a
computer and hard drives and mobile phones, the ministry said.
The operation, which was carried out in conjunction
with the police forces of Thailand and of European countries,
is continuing, the ministry said.
Last August, Spanish police arrested a Moroccan man
suspected of recruiting Islamic extremists over the Internet
and raising funds for terror groups.
In September, police in Barcelona also detained an
Algerian-born US citizen suspected of raising funds for
al Qaeda`s north African branch.