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Spanish judge charges 11 with plotting suicide attack in Barcelona
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    MADRID, Spain — A Spanish judge charged 11 suspected Islamic extremists Thursday with plotting suicide attacks against the public transport network in Barcelona.
    The indictment says the cell had planned to carry out several bombings in Spain’s second-largest city in January of this year.
    The suspects are nine Pakistanis, one Indian and one whose nationality was not given.
    In the indictment, Judge Ismael Moreno of the National Court charged the men with belonging to a terrorist organization and/or possessing explosives.
    Ten of the suspects were arrested Jan. 19 in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona, which has a large Pakistani community. One of the indicted men remains at large, and the judge issued an international warrant for his arrest.
    Police who raided the suspects’ homes found a small amount of bomb-making equipment that would not have been enough to stage a major attack, but would serve for training purposes, Moreno wrote.
    Still, the cell had achieved operational capability in terms of manpower and ‘‘was apparently very close to achieving full technical capability in terms of explosive devices,’’ the judge wrote.
    Moreno said he had concluded that ‘‘the members of the terrorist cell that was broken up planned to carry out several suicide terrorist attacks between Jan. 18 and 20 against means of public transport in Barcelona.’’
    He did not specify what the target was, but Spanish media have reported it was the Barcelona subway system.
    Bombings on the Madrid commuter rail network on March 11, 2004, killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.
    After the Barcelona suspects were arrested many Spanish newspapers ran front-page headlines calling the alleged plot ‘‘Barcelona’s March 11.’’
    A week after the arrests, however, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said ‘‘there are doubts’’ as to how close the cell might have been to striking. He cited the fact they it did not possess a significant amount of explosives.
    Muslim militants who claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings said they had acted in revenge for the support Spain’s conservative government of the time had shown for the Iraq war by contributing peacekeepers. In this case Judge Moreno did not say why militants might have chosen to attack Spain.
    Moreno said the Barcelona cell adhered to a radical Islamic movement that he identified as Tabligh e Jamaa.
    The judge named detainees Maroof Ahmed Mirza, 38, and Mohammad Ayud Elahi Bibi, 64, both from Pakistan, as the cell leaders. The latter’s son Naveed insisted his father is innocent.
    ‘‘No matter what they say, there is no evidence against him,’’ he told The Associated Press from Barcelona. ‘‘I am sure he has nothing to do with terrorists or anything like that.’’
    Moreno said Qadeer Malik, Hafeez Ahmed and Shaib Iqbal, all Pakistanis, were the cell’s explosives experts.
    Spain’s El Pais newspaper has reported the Barcelona plot was uncovered thanks to a French secret agent identified as F-1 who came from France to infiltrate the cell.
    In the indictment, Moreno only makes references to a ‘‘protected witness.’’
    His name has been kept secret, but the fact that a newspaper got the story caused consternation in Paris and embarrassment in Madrid.
    A French security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told the AP in February that counterterrorism teams in France had expressed ‘‘astonishment’’ about the way Spanish authorities had handled the case.
    Moreno said that based on the protected witness’s testimony, the suicide bombers would have been Mohammed Shoaib, Mehmooh Khalid, Imran Cheema, Aqueel Ur Rehman Abbasi. Shoaib’s nationality is not given; the other three are Pakistani.
    Abbasi’s whereabouts is unknown, although he usually resides in the Netherlands, the judge said.
    Three of the four alleged would-be suicide bombers arrived in Barcelona in late 2007 or early 2008. Moreno said that in suicide bombings it is common for the bombers to show up shortly before the date of the planned attack.

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