- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

From combined dispatches
BERLIN German intelligence has warned that 20 Afghan extremists traveling on falsified Pakistani passports are en route to Europe, Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported today.
In a release issued ahead of publication, the daily cited unnamed intelligence sources as saying what the paper called "terror commandos" were traveling to Germany, Britain, France and the Czech Republic via Bahrain.
The paper did not say what the extremists planned to do if they made it to Europe, but that they were followers of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He has denied reports he is allied with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency, which has warned in recent months it was concerned the country might become the target of Islamist attacks because of Berlin's support for the U.S.-led war on terror, was not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, Spain yesterday arrested 16 suspected extremists linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network who were preparing to carry out chemical attacks, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said.
In pre-dawn raids, police swooped into 12 homes in the northeastern Catalonia region surrounding Barcelona, also discovering explosives, bomb components and radio-transmission equipment used to communicate with Islamic extremists in Algeria and Chechnya, said Spain's Interior Minister, Angel Acebes.
"They [police] have broken up a major terrorist network … linked in this case to the Algerian Salafist group, a splinter of the Armed Islamic Group, which has clear connections with the criminal organization of bin Laden," Mr. Aznar said at a news conference in the northern port city of La Coruna.
"The network had connections with terrorists recently arrested in France and the United Kingdom, and they were preparing attacks with explosives and chemical materials," he said.
He did not say where the attacks were to have been.
The suspects belonged to two groups led by Algerians identified as Mohamed Tahraqui and Bard Eddin Ferdji, who were among those held, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The 16 suspects, mostly young Algerian men, were led from a Barcelona police station and bundled into cars to be driven to Madrid for more questioning.
They were being held on suspicion of belonging to an armed group.
In northeastern Italy yesterday, police searched homes of three Muslims after discovering explosives and maps marking the route to a NATO installation earlier in the week. Five Moroccans were detained in connection with the find.
The searches in Spain yesterday turned up containers of suspicious resins, fuels and other chemicals that were being analyzed, as well as electronic components, detonators and remote controls that could be used to make bombs, Mr. Acebes said.

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