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7 held in Spain for links with 26/11
Published on 2 Dec. 2010 12:48 AM IST
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In a major development, the Spanish authorities claimed to have arrested at least eight men over suspicion of having links with the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai, reports said on Wednesday.
As per reports, out of those arrested, seven men are of Pakistani origin and one is an African. The leads obtained by the Spanish authorities suggest that these men are closely associated with radical Islamic cells operating in Pakistan, reports Zeenews.
Those arrested form part of a larger group, which has been held in Barcelona and the nearby towns of Badalona, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Igualada and Mataro, in northeastern Spain. These men were involved in making fake ID cards, which were being sent to their handlers in Pakistan for terror-related schemes. The officials in Spain believe that the group, whose 15 members have been arrested, is supporting attacks on American forces and their allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Spanish Interior Ministry has confirmed the arrests but neither they nor the Pakistan government or the Indian authorities have officially established any links between the eight terror suspects and the 26/11 attacks. The group also involves people of Moroccan and Algerian nationality and is thought to be involved in the recruiting, training and financing of terrorists from North Africa to be sent to fight Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Spanish police have also seized computers, cell phones, books, agendas and “documentation linked to Islamic jihad from these men, who are in the age bracket ranging from 20 to 39 years.
‘Headley’s statement to US will have little value’
Pakistani authorities had told US officials that the statements given by David Headley, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks suspect, to American investigative agencies would not carry any value in Pakistan’s courts and would be treated as “hearsay with little evidentiary” value.
The secret US cable, leaked by WikiLeaks, dated February 22, 2010 and issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad says that Pakistan is “slow” in taking action against all those involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed more than 160 people, including six American nationals.
The classified cable confirms India’s long assertion that Islamabad is not serious in taking action against those involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
“The FIA (Federal Investigative Agency) and Ministry of Interior (of Pakistan) informed the FBI that it would be difficult to introduce Headley-related evidence in the government’s prosecution of the Mumbai defendants, including because Headley’s statements to US authorities would be treated as hearsay with little evidentiary value in court,” says the cable signed off by the US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson.
“In December, an FBI-DOJ team briefed Pakistani officials from the ISI, Ministry of Interior, FIA, IB, and MFA on the David Coleman Headley investigation, providing them with tear-line information on Headley’s statements to US authorities,” it said. “ISI officials said they had very little information to identify the Pakistanis mentioned in the statements. They discussed their investigation into First World Immigration Service, a business front used by Headley and his co- conspirators.
“The ISI said while they would not grant direct FBI access to co-conspirator Major (retd) Abdurrehman Syed, who was in its custody, the FBI could submit questions for Syed through the ISI,” it said.
“Pakistan’s prosecution of the seven suspects it arrested in the Mumbai case is proceeding, though at a slow pace. The defence lawyers have aggressively filed motions challenging varying aspects of the case,” the cable said.
On November 25 (2009), an anti-terrorism court finally framed the charges against the seven defendants, allowing the court proceedings, which are being held in camera, to move to the trial phase, it said, adding that four FBI expert witnesses are expected to be called to testify for the prosecution.

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