Security Says Al Qaeda Group Active in Spain: Pais
Filed at 12:48 p.m. ET
MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s security service has warned the government that Spain and France are most in danger of being attacked by a north African wing of al Qaeda and that the group is active in Spain, El Pais reported on Sunday.
Quoting recent reports from intelligence service CNI, El Pais said members of the newly named al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb were working in Spain to raise money and recruit fighters to send to Iraq and training camps in Africa.
The CNI report said the organisation, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), could absorb other groups in Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and that they would be more dangerous united than if they were working individually.
Nobody at the government or interior ministry was immediately available to comment on the report.
North Africa was dotted with bombings earlier this month.
Twin explosions killed 33 people in Algiers, and suicide bombers blew themselves up in Casablanca, two outside U.S. diplomatic offices.
Al Qaeda has said it wants to regain once-Muslim lands like Al-Andalus — the southern swathe of Spain now called Andalucia.
After this month’s bombs, Spain was reported to have stepped up security in its North African enclaves Ceuta and Melilla and in southern coastal towns. The government said it was taking precautions but there was “no fear.”
Sunday’s El Pais said police and security services had not uncovered any concrete plans to attack Spain but said the country was at risk.
“The real danger of what happened this month in Maghreb is the Algerian GSPC. All our attention is on them,” the paper quoted an antiterrorism police chief as saying. “That was the work of professionals. Al Qaeda in its pure form.”
El Pais said France and Spain were working together to study how the al Qaeda group was financing itself in their countries.