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U.S. citizen arrested in Spain over terror ties

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The arrest took place in Barcelona
  • Man has suspected ties to al Qaeda wing
  • Police confiscate a lot of material

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- An Algerian-born U.S. citizen with suspected links to international terror activity has been arrested in Spain, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Mohamed Omar Debhi, 43, is suspected of raising funds and laundering money for al Qaeda's northern Africa branch, the ministry said.

Authorities arrested Debhi on Tuesday in Barcelona.

National Police probes link him with financing terrorism in the Sahel -- a belt of territory just south of northern Africa -- for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He's also suspected of fraud and forgery, the ministry said.

According to police investigations, Debhi delivered significant amounts of money, either by bank transfer or by human couriers, to Toufil Mizi, an Algerian citizen who has eluded the Spanish judiciary since 2006 for the crime of being part of a terrorist organization.

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Mizi fled Spain after the dismantling of a radical Islamist group dedicated to financing AQIM.

The investigations show that Debhi and Mizi have been linked since 2003. The ministry said Debhi allegedly laundered and sent money to Algeria's AQIM cells. The money was transferred under the cover of trade later found to be fictitious, the ministry said.

More than 60,000 euros were sent to Mizi for delivery to AQIM cells.

In searches of some homes linked to the investigation Tuesday, police confiscated laptops, hard drives, invoices, bank documents and other paperwork. They also confiscated a luxury car and a boat moored in the port of Barcelona.