New arrests in Madrid linked to train bombs

Spanish police held 13 men yesterday suspected of having connections to Islamic extremist groups linked to the terrorist attacks in Madrid last year.

According to the Spanish Interior Minister, over 100 police participated in the latest operation, carrying out police raids in several flats located in different districts of Madrid. 12 of the arrests were made as a result of the raids.

Four of the men being held by police are believed to have had Youssef Belhadj living as guest in their home in July 2003. Youssef Belhadj is suspected of being al Quada’s spokesman in Europe who claimed responsibility for the Madrid train bombings and was extradited to Spain from Belgium yesterday. He appeared briefly before the Spanish courts yesterday to be formally accused of participating in the murder of 191 people and belonging to an armed group.

Spanish police believe the other detainees may have had connections with Serhane ben Abdelmajid Farkhet, “The Tunisian,” the suspected leader of the March 11 attacks who was one of 7 suspects who blew themselves up in Getafe last year to avoid arrest during a police raid.

The 13th arrest was made yesterday evening when police detained a Syrian man accused of holding meetings to support the mission of extremist Islamic groups.