A Taliban-trained terrorist was part of a cell sent to bomb Britain as revenge for their presence in Afghanistan, it has emerged.
The terrorist informant has told prosecutors he was trained by Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, and was planning a series of suicide attacks with 11 other men.
The informant, known as "Ahmed", told investigators the bombers were to work in pairs using a "device carried in a backpack with a third person to detonate a remote control" in order to ensure the bombers went through with their mission.
Details of the attempted attacks emerged in papers submitted to the Spanish authorities in a case against the alleged bombers, who were arrested in raids in the Raval district of Barcelona in January last year.
It is claimed the attacks were to begin on the Barcelona underground system and then spread to the other European countries with a presence in Afghanistan, thought to include Britain, according to new documents.
The information echoed claims made by British security services that a terrorist cell was sent to Manchester from the Taliban heartland in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.
British investigators believe that the cell, which was allegedly planning attacks on the Trafford and Arndale shopping centres over the Easter holidays, had connections with al-Qaeda, and Spanish prosecutors say their cell may also have had links with al-Qaeda.
The terrorist group is believed to have formed a "holy alliance" with the Taliban to launch terrorist attacks on foreign soil.
Instead of relying on British-born men travelling to Pakistan for training, al-Qaeda is now recruiting "ready made" terrorists from among the Taliban, investigators believe.
The 10 men arrested in the north west are fighting deportation on national security grounds after Government lawyers accused them of being members of a "UK-based network linked to al-Qaeda involved in attack planning".
Spanish police found chemicals including nitrocellulose and potassium perchlorate along with batteries, timers and cables in the raids.
They also found "materials for indoctrination" relating to attacks against Nato forces in Afghanistan and books and DVDs.
Spanish prosecutors submitted documents laying out their case earlier this month and Dolores Delgado Garcia, a prosecutor at Spain’s National Court, told the Daily Telegraph she believed the Barcelona cell was inspired by speeches by Osama bin Laden about the "loss of Andalucia" once part of the Muslim Ottoman empire.
"Al-Qaeda has been targeting Spain because of its historic associations with Andalucia," she said. "But other cities in Europe where countries have troops in Afghanistan were also targets."
Explaining her case at a top-level conference organised by New York University’s Centre for Law and Security, she said "Ahmed" had become a "protected witness" and had told them that "Baitullah Mehsud would make demands and when they were not complied with, they would launch their attacks".
Ahmed told them he had trained at a terrorist camp in Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and met Mehsud.
The men allegedly arrived in Spain via Germany using false travel documents.
Ahmed, a member of the fundamentalist group Tablighi Jamaat which is popular in the tribal areas, had second thoughts about launching a suicide attack when he was among those told to call his family and "say goodbye".
He is said to have refused to participate and contacted French intelligence, who in turn got in touch with the Spanish.
They have named Maroof Ahmed Mirza, 40, an imam at a mosque in Raval, as the leader of the cell along with Elia Mohammad Ayud Bibi, 64, while three others, Afees Ahmed, Qadeer Malik and Iqbal Sabih, were allegedly the bomb-makers.
The suicide bombers are said to have included Mohammed Shoaib, Mehmooh Khalid, Imran Cheema and ur-Rehman Aqeel Khalid.
Their other targets are said to have included Germany, France and Portugal.