Saturday, 18 August 2012

Al-Qaeda terrorists' life among us

Part of Los Junquillos
Two settled in one of San Roque's most depressed section
LA LÍNEA The three alleged members of Al-Qaeda arrested recently, lived in La Línea and San Roque. Some of their neighbours report that the two Chechnyans had been visiting the home of the Turkish man who was working in Gibraltar for about the last ten months. The house is located at number 38 on Virgen de Loreto street, in the Los Junquillos section, in a zone locally known as Las Palomeras. The approximately ten meters of frontage was occupied by him and his Moroccan wife, but it is surrounded by a high wall thatprevents seeing inside from the street. There are two metal doors to gain access, one for pedestrians, the other as a garage, both painted a rust red. According to these same neighbours, there is a door between a large courtyard and the garage, and "a long passageway on the left that leads to the house itself."

The other two alleged terrorists, the Chechynyans, lived just two kilometers away, in San Roque, only 20 minutes away on foot.

Depressed area after depressed area
The Las Palomeras section of La Línea is one of the town's most depressed, contained within one of the country's most depressed areas. It is rife with crime, where there are very few town planning regulations applied. It is an anarchic mixture of stand-alone homes -some of which appear to be quite large and luxurious from the outside- and run down blocks of flats.

These are the homes of some 10,000 inhabitants, mostly working class, among whom quite a number of foreign residents have come to live over the last few years. Which is how the arrested man and the two women in his home at the time -they were released- managed to blend in almost unnoticed.

Another neighbour, speaking from just outside the door of the Cristina Bar nearby, says that they didn't mix with the local people living on the street. "They only came in for a coffee very occasionally," she said. As is common among neighbours living at such close quarters, everyone knew that he was Turkish and that he worked as "a foreman on a building site in Gibraltar" and is, apparently, "married to a Moroccan woman."

Los Junquillos is well known as a place with significant social problems. Police presence is frequent at neighbourhood fights that, according to the Council's Social Services, originate in disputes about small scale drug traffic. It is also known as one of the area's main reception points for tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar close by. There have been cases when the police have been stoned and even shot at by neighbours, men and women, -some years back- for trying to catch smugglers.

However, the arrest of the alleged terrorist did not go unnoticed on the night of Wednesday, August 8, for the police cars closed off the roads and the neighbours were stopped from getting to their homes. Armed, bullet-proofed policemen in helmets surrounded the house. This was unusual - and so are terrorists in their midst. Supposedly.

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