Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Spain arrests 16 terrorists, Iraq releases 8

Well it's still a net improvement as Spain shuts down an al-Qaeda recruiting group.

MADRID — Spanish police arrested 16 people Monday who are suspected of recruiting Al Qaeda fighters to send to Iraq, officials said.

The group's alleged leader, a 25-year-old Iraqi known as Abu Sufian, had access to Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, and probably sent his recruits on suicide missions, the Interior Ministry said.

The 16, of several nationalities, sent volunteers to Iraq "to wage jihad as members of the Al Qaeda network," Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told a news conference.

He said the group had two fighters ready to send to Iraq at the time of the arrests.

The involvement of outsiders in attacks in Iraq was highlighted last month when a 36-year-old Belgian woman blew herself up on the outskirts of Baghdad in what was believed to be the first suicide attack in Iraq by a European woman.

Among those detained Monday in raids across Spain was a Belarus-born man who had trained in Chechnya and was an expert in chemical weapons, the ministry said.

A suspect born in Ghana is the imam of a mosque in the southern Spanish city of Malaga and another, from Morocco, used to be an imam in the same city.

Others arrested were born in Spain, Morocco, Egypt, France and Saudi Arabia. Later Monday, an Algerian was arrested in the southern city of Granada as part of the same operation, a police spokesman said.

16 more terrorists nailed. Hopefully the US gets a chance to interrogate the leader who was in contact with Zarqawi... good intel there I'm sure.

But then Iraq officially releases 8 of Saddam's former officials, possibly up to 25. What the hell?

BAGHDAD — A group of high-ranking Iraqi officials from the Saddam Hussein regime, including two biological weapons experts known as Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax, has been released after almost three years in detention, American officials said Monday.

The move came as violence again broke out across the country and as an Islamic militant group released a videotape it said showed the execution of an American hostage kidnapped this month.

One of the eight people released was Rihab Taha — dubbed Dr. Germ for her involvement in Hussein's biological weapons program — the U.S. military said. Another was Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a former top Baath Party official known as Mrs. Anthrax.

[...]American officials decided that the eight prisoners no longer posed a security threat and released them Saturday, said Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S.

I'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt, but it seems highly unlikely these guys are no longer threats. But maybe we tagged them with sooper sekret tracking devices to make for easy tracking hoping they'll lead us to terrorists or weapons caches. I'm sure they'll be leaving the country real quick-like... Baathist regime guys aren't too popular right now in the bold new democratic Iraq...