Three suspected Al Qaeda members amassed enough explosives to blow up a bus, and two of them had been learning how to fly before they were arrested Wednesday, Spanish authorities said today.
The three suspects – two from Russia and one from Turkey – might have been plotting an attack in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, The Associated Press reported.
Police arrested the Turkish man in the La Linea area near Gibraltar and found the others traveling by bus near the French border.
They found the explosives in a house in La Linea, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told the AP.
“There are clear indications they could have been planning an attack in Spain and/or another country,” Fernandez Diaz said, according to the AP.
They also found computers and manuals for flying light or remote-controlled aircraft.
The suspects had been seen flying a paraglider near a British military base at Gibralter.
“This is one of the most important operations carried out against Al Qaeda,” Fernandez Diaz said.
More from GlobalPost: Al Qaeda decline after bin Laden's death hard to reverse: report
The Russians – one from Chechen descent – were picked up near Cadiz, close to a large US military base in Rota.
“Police moved to arrest them when it became known that they planned to leave Spain,” Diaz said, the AP reported.
Sources in Spain identified one man as a construction site manager named Cengiz Yalcin.
“I saw his photo flash up on the news and immediately recognized him as a site manager I have met on numerous occasions,” the source told The Telegraph.
Diaz said one of the men resisted arrest, and that they were trained in explosives and poisons.
He “used uncommon strength to resist arrest, using the military training he received, and special forces had to intervene.”
The men received training in the Middle East before relocating to Spain.
They had been there for about three months, The New York Times said.
Diaz said the men were “clearly not acting as lone wolves,” and that Spanish allies are assisting with the investigation.
More from GlobalPost: What’s it like being governed by Al Qaeda?