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Europe Rounds Up Its Jihadists

2 minute read
J.F.O. Mcallister, Bruce Crumley, Steven Frank, Jeff Israely and Jane Walker

With a dramatic, deadly raid in a Madrid suburb and sweeps in several countries, antiterrorism efforts in Europe intensified last week. Three suspects in last month’s Madrid train bombings blew themselves up as Spanish police engaged them in a standoff Saturday night that also killed an agent. Officials had earlier in the week identified a Tunisian man, Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, as “leader and coordinator” of the train blasts that killed 191, and they had a warrant for his arrest as well as the arrests of five Moroccan accomplices. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Fakhet was linked to the raid. The standoff occurred just a day after an inspector near Toledo spotted a 26-lb. bomb along a rail line and in a week when letter bombs went out to three Spanish media outlets.

In and around London, 700 police officers swooped down on 24 addresses, detaining eight terrorist suspects–mostly British-born Pakistanis–and recovering 1,000 lbs. of a bombmaking chemical in a storage facility. A British official said the arrested have no proven ties to al-Qaeda but then suggested the suspects probably have “overseas links.” And Italian cops conducted a “preventive” sweep, taking 90 Islamic extremist suspects into custody.

Not all the suspects picked up last week were Islamists. Police in Turkey and four other European countries arrested 53 suspected members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, a Marxist group that has admitted to launching two suicide-bomb attacks in Istanbul since September 2001. Experts think al-Qaeda’s successes may have inspired the group to try to launch more spectacular attacks.

–By J.F.O. McAllister, Bruce Crumley, Steven Frank, Jeff Israely and Jane Walker

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