MADRID (AP) — Spanish police arrested five Algerians on Tuesday suspected of helping finance an al-Qaida-linked terror group in North Africa.
The arrests took place in four towns in the northern Basque and Navarra regions, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The five are suspected of giving logistical and financial support to members of the radical Islamist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which operates in Algeria.
AQIM grew out of the armed groups fighting the Algerian government in the 1990s after elections were canceled by the military in 1991 to stave off a victory for an Islamist political party. The group declared allegiance to al-Qaida in 2006 and changed its name, starting a renewed campaign of bombings and kidnappings across the Sahara.
The group currently holds four French hostages and French officials have called it the biggest terror threat to France and its interests.
The Spanish statement said the five arrested also maintained contacts with other radical Islamists in France, Italy and Switzerland and seized a large amount of documents and computer material.
They were named as Mohamed Talbi, Hakim Anniche, Mounir Aoudache, Abdelghaffour Bensaoula and Ahmed Benchohra, between 36 and 49 years old.
Dozens of suspected radical Islamic militants have been arrested in Spain since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington, and again after the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid.