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Spanish Judge Jails 7 Terror Suspects

The Associated Press
Monday, December 18, 2006; 11:31 AM

MADRID, Spain -- A suspected Islamic militant terrorist cell broken up in Spain last week planned attacks on an arms and explosives depot and a supermarket, according to a leading anti-terrorism judge, ruling that seven suspects should remain jailed.

In his late Sunday ruling, National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon freed four of the 11 people arrested in the case. The men _ 10 Spaniards and a Moroccan _ were arrested Dec. 12 in pre-dawn raids in Spain's African enclave of Ceuta after having been under police surveillance for more than a year.

The targeted arms depot belongs to the Spanish army on Ceuta, Garzon said in a document released Sunday. A former soldier was among the seven jailed.

The seven were charged provisionally with belonging to an armed group called Salafia Yihadia, which Garzon said was part of al-Qaida's network in North Africa.

The four released must keep the court informed of their whereabouts.

"Police action prevented the group from forming itself further, which would have greatly raised the threat against lives and physical targets," added Garzon.

The seven jailed included two brothers of a former prisoner at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In the raids, police found a farewell note from one of the brothers to his mother. According to Garzon's statement, it read:

"Allah sent me to fight and to be sacrificed for his cause. We beg Allah to accept our effort and to give us shelter in the sublimity of his paradise. Do not suffer or cry for me. I will always be in your hearts."

Spanish authorities had initially said last week that the men had begun discussing taking concrete action but were in the early stages and had not selected a target.

North African Muslim extremists are blamed for blowing up four Madrid commuter trains, killing 191 people and injuring more than 1,500 on March 11, 2004.

More than 300 suspected militants have been arrested in Spain since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

© 2006 The Associated Press