Spanish police find 'bomb workshop' in home of letter bomb 'terrorist'

Spanish police found ‘bomb workshop’ in the home of 74-year-old ‘terrorist with links to Russia’ who ‘sent exploding letters to Spain’s PM and the Ukrainian Embassy’

  • The unnamed suspect was arrested in the city of Miranda de Ebro on Wednesday
  • He is charged with six offences for allegedly sending letter bombs to officials 

Police in Spain discovered a bomb-making workshop in the home of a 74-year-old man charged with terrorism for sending letter bombs to high-profile diplomatic and government targets, the Interior Ministry has said. 

Spain’s National Court said it had charged the retiree – thought to be affiliated with a radical Russian militant group – with six offences for allegedly sending the explosive packages to the country’s prime minister and to the US and Ukrainian embassies in Madrid. 

An Interior Ministry statement issued as the suspect appeared in court on Friday detailed items in the man’s home that indicated meticulous planning had gone into making the letter bombs. 

‘Inside the house, the investigators found a workshop with tools, welding, metal elements and screws,’ the statement said. 

Preparations were underway ‘aimed at the manufacture of new devices’, according to the ministry. 

In this file photo taken on December 1, 2022 Spanish police stand guard near the US embassy in Madrid, after they have received a letter bomb, similar to one which went off at the Ukrainian embassy

Spanish police officers stand guard outside a building after the arrest of a man suspected of being the sender of letter-bombs in November and December to the Ukrainian and U.S. embassies and several institutions in Spain, in Miranda de Ebro, Spain January 25, 2023

The suspect, referred to only by the initials PGP in court documents, was arrested in the northern city of Miranda de Ebro on Wednesday. 

He was charged with the manufacture and use of explosive devices for terrorist purposes, according to court documents. Two of the alleged offences were classified as aggravated as they involved members of the government. 

The six letter bombs were sent in November and December and required the intervention of bomb-disposal experts. One was destroyed after being dispatched by regular mail to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. 

Letters with similar characteristics were sent to the Defence Ministry, a European Union satellite centre at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base outside Madrid, and an arms factory in north-eastern Spain thamakes grenades sent to Ukraine. 

An envelope intercepted at the US embassy’s security screening point in December was destroyed by a bomb squad after a wide area in the centre of the capital was cordoned off. 

‘This person was very active on social networks and according to National Police investigators, he has technical and computer expertise,’ an interior ministry statement said.

‘Although it is presumed that the detainee made and sent the explosive devices alone, the police do not rule out the participation or influence of other people.’

Nobody was killed by the six letter bombs sent in late November and early December to various sites in Spain, but a Ukrainian embassy employee was lightly injured while opening one of the packages.

The six letter bombs were sent in November and December and required the intervention of bomb-disposal experts. One was destroyed after being dispatched by regular mail to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (pictured)

Investigators suspect the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), a radical group with members and associates across Europe, is behind the letter bomb campaign.

The group – which is designated a global terrorist organisation by the United States – is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

‘Important members of the group have been in Spain, and the police there have tracked its ties with far-right Spanish organisations,’ the newspaper said.

According to Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, RIM ‘maintains contacts with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups across Europe’.

‘The group has provided paramilitary training to Russian nationals and members of like-minded organisations from other countries at its facilities in St. Petersburg,’ it added.

After the embassy attack, Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, appeared to point the finger at Russia.

‘We are well aware of the terrorist methods of the aggressor country,’ he told Spanish public television on November 30 just hours after the incident.

Russia’s embassy to Spain condemned the letter bomb campaign.

After congratulating police on the arrest, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said investigators were ‘looking at all possibilities’.

In addition to sending arms to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s nearly year-long war, Spain is also training Ukrainian troops as part of a European Union programme and providing humanitarian aid.

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