Police Round Up Associates Of Alleged Terrorist
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Police raided homes in the capital and a northern city and rounded up nine associates of a suspect in the Flight 103 bombing and an attack on a Greek cruise ship, authorities said Wednesday.
The suspected Swedish-based terrorist cell led by Samir Muhammed Khadar was linked to the Abu Nidal Palestinian group, said police spokesman Leif Hallberg.
Police also displayed an array of weapons they said was designated for a planned attack in Sweden and were seized in August near Khadar’s home.
Hallberg told a news conference five people were informed they were suspects in a criminal investigation ″for planning sabotage.″ The notice is the first step of an arrest procedure.
″We wanted them to know that we are keeping our eyes on them and that we don’t tolerate terrorism,″ he said.
The roundup of suspects followed searches of homes in Stockholm and Umea, 430 miles north of the capital.
Hallberg police questioned the group that included men and women - Swedish and foreign nationals, including stateless Palestinians. All were released while the investigation continued, he said.
The key to the alleged terrorist cell was found after Khadar, a Palestinian resident of Stockholm posing as a businessman, was linked to the assault on the Greek cruise ship ″City of Poros″ last July 11 in which nine people died.
Khadar was identified by Greek police as the planner of the attack. He was originally reported to have died in a car explosion in Athens hours before the assault, but police said Wednesday there were contradictory reports on whether he was still alive.
Other reports linked Khadar, described as the operations chief of the Abu Nidal group, to the December explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, which killed 270 people.
Reporters were shown an arms cache found in August near Khadar’s home in a Stockholm suburb near Arlanda international airport.
Displayed on a table were four Kalishnikov rifles, eight ammunition clips, 17 F1 hand grenades and two pistols with silencers.
Also on display were bags of plastic explosives similar to, but not identical with, the Semtex explosives investigators believe were used in the Pan Am bombing.
″It is very difficult to get such a large amount of weapons into the country,″ Hallberg said. ″That is why we’re convinced they were going to be used in an attack within our borders.″
About 10 other people were brought in for questioning as witnesses, Halberg said. The national TT news agency said one of them was Khadar’s Finnish-born wife, whose name has not been released for publication.