Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Qaeda eyed chemical hit on U.S. base in Spain-paper

Source: Reuters

MADRID, May 3 (Reuters) - An al Qaeda cell based in France planned a chemical attack on a U.S. naval base in Rota, Spain, newspaper ABC reported on Tuesday.

Algerian Said Arif, extradited to France from Syria last year, has admitted his cell was plotting a chemical attack on the southern Spanish base controlled by the United States since 1953, the Spanish daily reported.

However, authorities did not know how they were going to carry out the attack, ABC said.

No one at Spain's Interior Ministry was available to comment on the report, which did not cite sources.

The paper said Arif was considered a lieutenant of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.

Zarqawi himself was accused of planning a chemical attack last year in his native Jordan, which authorities thwarted.

Arif was extradited to France last June from Syria, where he had fled after escaping French police raids in December 2002, the Spanish daily said.

He was linked to a group of suspected Islamists arrested in Barcelona in January 2003, the paper said. The government said at the time those suspected al Qaeda members were planning a chemical attack.
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