Spanish police have arrested three suspected Al Qaeda members and seized videotapes of several US landmarks including the World Trade Center filmed "from every angle," Interior Minister Angel Acebes said Tuesday.
Acebes said the three suspects were of Syrian origin and that one of them was "clearly implicated in the financial infrastructure of Al Qaeda." Ghalyoun and Abu-Aljer had Spanish nationality, police said.
During the arrests, which took place on Tuesday in Madrid and the eastern city of Castellon, five videocassettes were found containing footage filmed by one of the suspects, Ghasoub al-Abrash, during a 1997 visit to the United States.
Two of the videotapes were of the Twin Towers, filmed "from every angle and from every distance," said Mr. Acebes.
Other landmarks filmed as "possible terrorist targets," according to the Interior Ministry, included the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, San Fransisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago's Sears Tower, and California's Disneyland and Universal Studios theme parks.
Footage of the inside and outside of an unidentified New York airport were also seen on the tapes, the ministry said.
Two of the tapes included "extremely violent" scenes of rebel fighting in the Russian republic of Chechnya as well as scenes of "terrorist training," Acebes said.
He said that one of the suspects, identified as Abdalrahman Alarnaot, received training in an Al Qaeda camp in the Bosnian village of Zenica.
The third man, Mohamed Khair, was said to be an Al Qaeda financial handler, forced to leave Syria because he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist organization.
Acebes said that Khair received a visit from a man known to act as a messenger for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shortly after al-Abrash returned from his 1997 US visit.
Spanish police acted on arrest mandates issued by judge Baltasar Garzon, who has been heading an investigation into suspected Al Qaeda cells in Spain.
The same investigation previously led to the arrest of nine people on charges that they belonged to a cell "that was directly involved in the preparation and carrying out of the Sept. 11 attacks."
Madrid's El Pais newspaper reported last month that the Sept. 11 hijackers met secretly last July in the northeastern Spanish town of Tarragona to finalize their plans.
The paper quoted Spanish intelligence sources as saying pilots Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi met with four other Islamic extremists at the port, where they decided to transfer money to Zacarias Moussaoui, the French-Moroccan national currently in US custody awaiting trial in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.