Spain charges 22 with recruiting fighters for Iraq

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MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) A Spanish court charged 22 people today in relation to an Islamist cell recruiting people in Spain to fight for al Qaeda in Iraq.

Judge Baltasar Garzon charged 18 of the accused, whose names were mainly of Arabic origin, with belonging to a terrorist group and four with collaborating with terrorists, according to a High Court news release.

The investigation, which began in 2003, also linked the group to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, which has operations in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey and Syria.

The charges come a week before the verdict is due in the trial of 28 men accused of killing 191 people in train bomb attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004.

Since the Madrid train bombings, Spanish security forces have regularly arrested suspected Islamists believed to be plotting attacks in Spain or abroad.

REUTERS GL HS2222

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