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Bulgarian Police Make Terrorism Financing Arrests

Bulgarian special police forces have dismantled a suspected terrorism financing ring and detained 43 people in coordinated raids across the country.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev said on January 18 that one of the suspects was a Syrian citizen permanently residing in Bulgaria who allegedly transferred money to people abroad linked to militant groups.

Geshev told a news conference in Sofia that "the main suspect has been in touch and has financed people who provide logistics to international terrorist groups."

He did not reveal the names of the groups or the countries where they allegedly operate, but explained that the funds had been sent through the traditional Muslim hawala system that uses individual brokers rather than banks.

Geshev said that the bust follows a yearlong investigation in several European Union member states.

He added that the investigation was not about any direct terrorist activities in Bulgaria.

The police raids took place at more than 50 sites and 26 cars in seven Bulgarian cities. Some 32,000 euros ($36,000) were seized together with documents and other evidence.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP