By Polina Chernitsa
The Russian Embassy in Spain said on Friday that it has no information about the detention of suspected Russian terrorists. The Russian diplomats said that neither the Interior Ministry nor the Foreign Ministry of Spain informed about the citizenship of the three detainees who are suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
Meanwhile, local media reported that the two suspects allegedly come from the former Soviet Union and that one of them was former member of Russian riot police and a poison expert. According to Spanish police, the trio may have been planning ‘to commit terrorist acts in Europe’.
Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz confirmed on Friday that the detainees are members of the al-Qaeda group and that they were nabbed the moment they finished preparations for a terrorist act. The detention took place in the southern Spanish city of Cadiz on Thursday. Diaz stressed that the detainees gained enough explosives ‘to blow up a bus’. Thus far, the citizenship of just one suspect has been determined. Diaz said that the three were arrested just when they were deciding on a site of a terrorist attack.
“We have strong proof that they planned to stage a series of terrorist attacks both in Spain and other European countries, Diaz says. The two detainees come from countries of the former Soviet Union, while the third detainee is a Turkish citizen.”
In the meantime, Spanish media were quick to speculate on a possible ‘Russian trace’, arguing that the two detainees come from the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya. With the information yet to be confirmed, speaking of the Russian citizens’ being involved in terrorist acts is irrelevant, Vasily Nioradze, spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Spain, told the Voice of Russia on Friday.
“While Spanish media really referred to some detainees as those coming from Russia, the Spanish Foreign Ministry, in turn, gives no information on the topic, Nioradze says. We are keeping in touch with the Spanish side, and right now, there is no breaking news on the matter.”
The Spanish Interior Ministry called the Thursday arrests ‘one of the most important operations that have been carried out against al-Qaeda in the past few months’. The Ministry added that the detainees were instructed in al-Qaeda’s training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In an interview with the Voice of Russia on Friday, Oriental expert Sergei Demidenko dismissed allegations about a potential threat stemming from al-Qaeda, an organization that he recalled does not exist. Rather, these allegations are related to a real threat emanating from radical Islamists, who intensified their activities during the so-called Arab Spring. It is more relevant to speak of the international terrorist community coming to the fore, something that I would attribute to a spate of changes in a geopolitical situation in Northern Africa.
Spain is a country where one of the bloodiest terrorist acts in Europe occurred in March 2004, when about 200 people were killed in the Madrid train bombings. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.