Police Arrest Eight Suspected Terrorists, Seize Explosives
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Police said Saturday they broke up a gang of Shiite Moslem terrorists who imported at least a ton of plastic explosives for planned attacks on U.S. targets in Europe.
Government spokesman Eugenio Burriel told a news conference in Valencia that eight suspects were arrested and police were searching through a 19-ton shipment of canned goods from Sidon, Lebanon, where they have found 265 pounds of plastic explosives.
Police reported they had examined only 8 percent of the shipment and expected to find between 1 ton and 1.5 tons of explosives when they opened all of the 25,000 cans.
″This is not a Spanish operation. It is an operation linked to international activities,″ Burriel said.
Burriel said three of those arrested have been identified as members of Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian Shiite terrorist group in Lebanon.
In Madrid, national police spokesman Manuel Gimenez said the eight suspects carried a variety of passports, and four had Iraqi documents. He said the arrests were made in Madrid and Valencia, starting Friday, after the discovery of explosives in the shipment of canned foods.
Gimenez said the shipment arrived in Valencia early this month and an investigation indicated the terrorists’ targets included U.S. interests in Europe.
He said custom officials alerted police to the container that carried the previously unheard of name of Alisar Import Export Co. of Valencia, with a forwarding address to Madrid.
Giminez identified three suspects, who he said were believed to be members of Hezbollah, as Abbas Mohamed Hallan, 23, of Kuwait; Hassan Hassan Rahd, 24, of Brazil, and Ali Mohamed Sbaiti, 31, of Lebanon. Identifies were based on the passports they carried, he said.
Hallan and Rahd were arrested in Valencia and Sbaiti was captured with five other men in his Madrid apartment, where police found 4.5 pounds of plastic explosives, according to officials.
The other detainees were identified by their passports as Mohamed Mehussen Saber, 27; Abdul Khadum Sbaiti Abdul Muhsain, 31; Abbas Ali Hussein, 34; and Maki Mohamed, 34, all of Iraq, and Yassin Elamin Alhan, 27, of Sudan.
Hezbollah is also considered to be the umbrella organization for extremist groups holding foreign hostages in Lebanon.