Police in northern Spain have arrested 13 suspected Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa. Searches have been conducted in the homes of the arrested, as part of the night operation launched in the Basque city of Bilbao. “The 13 formed a group dedicated to robbery and drug trafficking. “The police are investigating if the suspects diverted funds they obtained from criminal activities to finance Islamic terrorism in Algeria,” said a statement released by Spain’s interior Ministry. Receipts of money transfers, stolen passport, stolen gold and solver, computers, mobile phones, and knives were among the seized evidence. Police said that the operation was “linked to Al-Qaeda,” but gave no further operation – the investigation is ongoing. According to reports, those held are primarily of Algerian and Moroccan background.
The significance of this turn of events and article points to the deeply intertwined motivations of suspected terror linkages, and state investigations. Spain, in recent years, has been known to make sweeps of arrests with a primary charge (forgery, robbery, for example), with an addendum of possible connection to terror activity; and frequently, later altering accusations of suspects. As such, this investigation provides an important look into not only the transnationalism of possible terror activity, but poses questions about Spanish security investigations, and their level of veracity.