A group of extreme Islamists was planning to attack the public transport system in Barcelona, said a judge in Spain today.
The group's planning was described as being in the early stages, but police said they found 50 grams of explosives and four timers over the weekend when they raided numerous addresses in Barcelona and arrested 14 people.
Law enforcement and intelligence sources in the U.S. say they believe the attack was a credible plot. The plot was hatched in Pakistan, sources say, and thought to be al Qaeda-directed or inspired. The men had recently entered Spain from Pakistan.
Officials are now investigating whether the planned attack was being set up to coincide with an upcoming visit by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf or the upcoming elections in Spain.
Following the arrests this weekend, Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the group was actively preparing an attack and not just recruiting or financing.
"Here we are looking at something different: a well-organized group who were going beyond ideological radicalism to acquiring materials to make explosives and therefore eventually to carry out violent attacks," he said. He said a range of bomb-making materials and computers were also seized in the raids.
Four of the men arrested have been released, and 10 are still being held.