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Spanish police arrest suspects in terrorist recruiting

Published Sep. 10, 2005

Spanish police arrested 11 members of a group that allegedly recruited people to carry out terrorist attacks and whose leader was identified as Osama bin Laden's representative in Spain.

Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said the group planned "to recruit people to take to training camps in different places with the aim of later carrying out terrorist attacks."

Spanish authorities have made key arrests since launching a nationwide crackdown on suspected terror cells after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In raids Tuesday in Madrid and Granada, police seized computer equipment, videos, falsified documents and several .22-caliber guns.

The recruiters, who belonged to a group identified as the Mujahedeen Movement, allegedly provided the false papers to members of its network passing through Spain.

The group leader was identified as Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, a Syrian with Spanish citizenship who also used the alias Abu Dahdah. An Interior Ministry statement described him as the "representative of the organization run by Osama bin Laden in Spain."

The other 10 were said to be from Islamic countries and most held Spanish citizenship. Authorities said they were connected with six Algerians detained in Spain on Sept. 26. That group was accused of planning bin Laden-ordered attacks against U.S. interests in Europe and belonging to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Algerian organization allegedly financed by bin Laden.

In France, authorities on Tuesday were holding an Algerian man with suspected ties to Mohamed Bensakhria, a bin Laden deputy arrested in Spain in June who authorities say met with suicide hijacker Mohamed Atta earlier this year in Spain.

Abdelkader Tcharek was the only one of six suspects rounded up in France over the weekend who remained in custody.

FBI searches Pa. homes

CHESTER, Pa. _ About 30 FBI agents supported by a hazardous materials team searched two houses Tuesday, including one owned by a city health commissioner who also teaches at Johns Hopkins University.

The agents seized several items, which FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi refused to identify. The FBI would not say why the houses were searched, and federal court documents used to obtain search warrants were sealed.

Agents entered a house owned by Dr. Irshad Shaikh, a Pakistan native who has been the city health commissioner since 1994. He and his brother, Masood Shaikh, who works in Chester's lead abatement program and lives with Shaikh, were interviewed by the FBI.

"They were here, they asked some questions, they left. I fully cooperated from this side and they left," Shaikh said. He declined to say what the FBI asked.

Shaikh, 39, is a faculty associate at the school of public health, where he has taught part time since last year, Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea said.

Shaikh, who earned a master's degree and doctorate in international health at Hopkins, has no access to labs where biological agents were present.

"Not only is he not in labs, our labs do not have anthrax," O'Shea said.

The second house searched by the FBI is occupied by Asif Kazi, an accountant also from Pakistan.