After allowing the police a further 48 hours to question two suspected members of Al Qaeda, Judge Pablo Ruz on Sunday ordered them remanded in custody on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization and possession of explosives.
Although no concrete evidence was included in the judicial summary, the magistrate said that information received from the French judiciary, the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Russian Federation and the US Department of Justice was sufficient to detain the two men, both believed to be Chechen.
Among the reasons given was the relation between the suspected terrorists “with other individuals previously investigated for their links to organizations with a terrorist character and ends.”
The men were arrested last Thursday with a third suspect, a Turkish national named Cengiz Yalçin, who was remanded the following day under accusations of possession of explosives after a police raid on his apartment in La Línea de la Concepción, on the border with Gibraltar.
Yalçin had been working as an engineer on The Rock as foreman of construction for Profield Contractors. According to the firm, whose main client was the Gibraltar administration, he had impeccable references in the sector.
Chief among the security services’ concerns about Yalçin was his hobby — paragliding. One of the new pieces of evidence to land on the judge’s desk came from Yalçin’s instructor, who stated the Turk had asked if aerial photography during his lessons was a possibility. When told it was not, Yalçin asked about whether a light aircraft might be available.
The identity of one of the two supposed Chechens also added to investigators’ suspicions. Originally claiming to be called Ahmad Avar, it later transpired that one of the detainees is Eldar Magomedov, who a protected witness told US authorities is in fact Muslim Dost, “to whom [the witness] attributed participation in terrorist activities starting in 2010 in Waziristan and Afghanistan.”
Further questions were raised about the activities of the two men since the beginning of this year. They are known to have entered Spain from France during April and May, when they received paragliding classes from Yalçin, before heading back over the border. Also found in Yalçin’s flat were passport photographs of the two men. The suspects’ argument that they are asylum seekers was also uncorroborated.