Spain charges 4 over terror ties
By CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge Tuesday indicted four Algerians for belonging to a terrorist group linked to al Qaeda.
The alleged leader of the group is also accused of having knowledge of cell phone detonation devices similar to those used in the Madrid and Bali bombings, according to a copy of the court order obtained by CNN.
The four, who were already in custody, also had materials capable of being converted into "homemade napalm," according to an FBI analysis in 2003 that had been requested by the Spanish judge.
The FBI analyzed chemical materials seized by Spanish police who searched the suspects' property.
The Spanish cell also provided logistical support to a suspected terrorist cell, arrested earlier in France, that had plotted an attack in Strasbourg during the 2000 Christmas season and "which aimed to carry out attacks with toxic, chemical or bacterial products against European targets," the court documents said.
Judge Baltasar Garzon issued the indictment against the four Algerians, identified as Mohamed Tahraoui, 31, the alleged cell leader; Smail Boudjelthi, 29; Ali Kaouka, 30; and Mohamed Nebbar, 33.
All four have Spanish residency documents, according to the court documents.
"For all of this, there should be no underestimating this new class of delinquency, its methods and its firm decision to attack human targets in a totally indiscriminate manner in any part of the world," the judge wrote in the 14-page indictment order.
The four suspects indicted Tuesday were already in Spanish custody. They were among 16 men arrested in Spain in January 2003, linked at that time to possible Islamic terrorist activities, a court official told CNN.
The 16 suspects were subsequently released, after an initial analysis determined the material they possessed was simply cleaning detergent. But four of the suspects were later rearrested, and they were the ones indicted Tuesday.
The indictment order said the four were also were charged with possession of flammable substances or explosive devices, and with a count of terrorism in which the indictment says they were fully conscious of their criminal activities, despite their pleas of innocence to the judge.
The evidence of cell phones, as a detonation device for bombs, appeared during a search of the home of the alleged cell leader, Tahraoui, in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramanet, near Barcelona. The documents did not say when the search occurred.
In the search, the indictment said, police found a cell phone with two holes in its upper casing, similar to cell phones used in the al Qaeda attack in Bali in October 2000 that killed more than 180 people.
Also seized in this search of Tahraoui's home were sketches of yet other cell phones that had been seized in an earlier search of the home in Spain of another indicted al Qaeda suspect.
The judge wrote that the cell phone with the two holes in it, and sketches of other cell phones, showed important similarities.
"It seems they coincided with the same system used in the terrorist attacks in March on March 11, and in particular with the cell phone found in a backpack bomb deactivated by police that had not exploded on one of the trains," the indictment said.
The "homemade napalm" described in the indictment turned up in an FBI analysis in July 2003, requested by Judge Garzon, of material seized in the northeastern village of Banyoles, near Barcelona, in December 2002, shortly after the arrest in France of a suspected al Qaeda operative who had been aided by the suspects from the Algerian cell in Spain.
Spanish undercover police secretly videotaped two of the Algerian suspects, Smail Boudjelthi and Ali Kaouka, throwing material into a garbage bin near their home.
Police retrieved the liquids, which where in two drums labeled "Finish Kare," which is manufactured in the United States, the indictment said.
The material also included a clear-plastic bottle, labeled with a skull, that was half full with a dark blue liquid.
The FBI analysis determined that a mixing of the liquids from the drums with the liquid in the plastic bottle would "result in a product known as homemade napalm," a substance that could be used to increase the lethal effect of an attack, the indictment said.
The indictment said the alleged leader of the Algerian cell in Spain, Tahraoui, had formed it around the late 1990s, after Algerian authorities cracked down on militants in that country.
The cell in Spain provided logistical and infrastructure support for a suspected terrorist cell in France that had been put together by Merouane Benahmed, who was arrested in December 2002 by French authorities for suspected links to a terrorist cell that planned attacks in Strasbourg, France, during the Christmas season of 2000.
The cell in France, which included other men arrested later, "aimed to carry out attacks using toxic, chemical or bacterial agents against European targets," the indictment said.