Spanish judge charges four men with terrorism

A Spanish judge on Tuesday charged four Algerians with membership of a terror cell that financed and gave logistical support to an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaida, and released four other men who had been arrested in the case, court officials said. Judge Fernando Andreu, who finished questioning the 11 early Tuesday after a night-long interrogation at the National Court, ordered Kaled Bakel, Said Bouchema, Salim Zerbuti and Lyief Sihamida detained on terrorism charges. He ordered the release of seven other Algerian detainees.

The 11 men were detained last on Wednesday in and around the cities of Alicante, Granada and Murcia, on suspicion of having ties to the Algeria-based Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which has declared allegiance to al-Qaida.

Andreu said that the four had tried unsuccessfully in February and March to buy explosives in exchange for hashish in the city of Granada, a court official said, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity.

The four are also charged with forgery of official documents and credit cards.

The seven released were ordered to hand over their passports and appear at the court weekly.

Andreu ordered the arrests based on a 10-month police investigation. Police also presented the judge with taped conversations in which the suspects talked about how to obtain a substance called "red mercury," which has radioactive properties, to make bombs, the court official said.

The suspects were accused of financing terrorist activities through petty crime, including drug trafficking and forging credit cards, authorities said.

Spanish authorities said the group was not planning an imminent attack.

Train bombings in Madrid last year killed 191 people and wounded some 1,500 in Spain's worst terrorist attack, which has been blamed on Islamic militants, reports the AP. I.L.

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