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WikiLeaks: U.S. concerned over terrorism in Spain

The United States grew so concerned about the possibility of an Islamist terror attack in Spain in 2007 that it proposed setting up a counter-terrorism centre in the country’s second-largest city, according to confidential cables.

The three U.S. cables, released by WikiLeaks on Saturday, say the U.S. planned the “counter-terrorism, anti-crime and intelligence centre” at its consulate in Barcelona.

The goal was “combating the target-rich environment of terrorist and criminal activities centred in the region,” .

In March 2004, a total of 191 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded in bombing attacks on Madrid commuter trains. Islamic militants claimed responsibility.

One U.S. cable, dated 2005, sets the scene, saying that “Spain is both a significant target of Islamic terrorist groups and a major logistical hub for Islamic extremist groups operating across the globe.”

A 2007 cable says Spain “is a past and current al—Qaida target” and a critical player in US—EU counter—terrorism efforts.

It says Barcelona has a large Muslim population “susceptible to jihadist recruitment” and adds that “Spanish and U.S. authorities have identified Catalonia as a major Mediterranean centre of radical Islamist activity.”

According to the cable, heavy immigration — both legal and illegal — from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria) and Southeast Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh) had made the region “a magnet for terrorist recruiters.”

The plans for the proposed centre say 13 agents would be strategically situated to monitor quickly who and what was passing through the area from places such as Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and the south of France.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 3:46:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/WikiLeaks-U.S.-concerned-over-terrorism-in-Spain/article15590289.ece

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