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Spain arrests suspected al Qaeda operative

From Al Goodman, CNN
updated 2:43 PM EDT, Tue September 20, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The suspect has been taken to Madrid for arraignment
  • The Cuban national was arrested on the resort island of Mallorca
  • Spanish authorities say he was attempting to recruit for al Qaeda
  • Mallorca is a popular tourist draw for many Europeans

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Spanish Civil Guards have arrested a Cuban man on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca on suspicion of belonging to Al Qaeda, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The suspect, identified only by his initials J.E.F.M., "had undergone a process of radicalization in recent years," the statement said. The arrest was made in Cala Ratjada, on the northeast side of Mallorca, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca.

Authorities have been investigating the suspect since last year. He is wanted for allegedly recruiting and indoctrinating others for the terrorist group and for distributing public messages aimed at provoking terrorist attacks, the statement said.

Spain's Balearic archipelago in the Mediterranean is a popular tourist resort for Spaniards and others from Europe, with large contingents of Britons and Germans visiting or residing there.

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman, speaking under customary anonymity, said the 24-year-old suspect has been taken to Madrid for arraignment before the National Court, which handles terrorism cases. Under Spanish law, he can be held for up to 72 hours before arraignment.

The suspect had 1,120 radical videos on the Internet, mostly produced by him, and he was the administrator of various internet channels, the Interior Ministry said. He used the internet for the radical indoctrination of other individuals, the statement said.

Authorities seized various portable computers, external hard drives and USB memory sticks, according to the ministry.

Since the Madrid train bombings of 2004 that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 others, Spanish police have arrested more than 400 suspected al Qaeda militants or collaborators. Most have been of North African or Middle Eastern origin, with a few from Latin America, the spokeswoman said.

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