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Spain holds al-Qaeda internet suspect pending probe

Published:

A Spanish court Friday remanded a suspected al-Qaeda extremist in custody on suspicion of terrorist offences for running jihadist Internet forums.

Among the online activities of the suspect, Mudhar Hussein al-Malki, police say he praised the French Islamist Mohammed Merah who shot dead seven people in southwest France, according to a written court ruling.

Spain’s top criminal court ordered Malki, identified by police as a Saudi national, to be held in provisional detention without bail “for the suspected crime of belonging to a terrorist organization,” it said.

Police suspect him of belonging to the “Ansar al-Mujahedeen network” running online forums aimed at “recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of sympathizers for armed jihad.”

The court added that Malki posted a message praising Merah on March 22, after the Frenchman of Algerian descent was killed in a police siege in Toulouse.

When Malki was arrested in Valencia on Tuesday, Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said there was no connection between his case and that of Merah.

The minister said Almalki “was known within the organization as al-Qaeda’s librarian” -- an apparent reference to his online document-sharing activities detailed in Friday’s ruling.

The court said Malki shared material online about poisonous gases and explosives and took part in publishing a list of recommended targets for attacks, including former U.S. leader George W. Bush and Britain’s Tony Blair.

Malki has three days to appeal the detention order.