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U.S. Terror Finance Suspect Arrested in Spain

Spanish police have arrested a U.S. citizen of Algerian origin who is suspected of financing al Qaeda's North African affiliate, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Mohamed Omar Debhi, 43, was arrested Tuesday in the town of Esplugues de Llobregat near Barcelona.

He is suspected of laundering money and sending some of it to an associate in Algeria, Toufik Mizi, for it to be passed on to cells of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a ministry statement said.

The arrest came as intelligence officials in Britain, France and Germany said they had thwarted a "credible, Islamist-linked terror plot" against the countries.

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports that security officials have said no attack was imminent and, with one exception, the terror threat level has not been raised.

The only actual evidence of any increased threat was in France, where there have been a series of security alerts, including the evacuation Tuesday night of the Eiffel Tower after a phoned-in bomb threat. It was the second such scare in two weeks at the Paris landmark.

Mizi is wanted in Spain after eluding a police raid here in 2008.

The ministry said Debhi used bank transfers or human couriers to send Mizi amounts in excess of euro60,000 ($80,000), although it did not specify how much was sent altogether.

The statement said Debhi was "linked to crimes of financing terrorism in the Sahel for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," referring to the vast stretch of sub-Saharan territory where the terror organization has kidnapped several Europeans and other Westerners in recent years.

Some of the money Debhi sent to Algeria was transferred under the guise of business transactions that turned out to be bogus, the ministry said. He is also suspected of tax fraud and forgery in Spain.

Mizi used to live in Spain but fled after a series of police raids in June 2008 that targeted a cell suspected of recruiting Islamic terrorists and providing logistical support for members of al Qaeda's North African affiliate. Eight people were arrested in those raids, which were carried out in Pamplona, Barcelona and the eastern city of Castellon.

The Interior Ministry said it had no immediate information on when Debhi obtained U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Jeffrey Galvin said he had no immediate comment on the arrest.

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