4 tied to terror: Swiss police
MADRID, June 28, (Agencies): Police on Wednesday arrested six suspected members of the Islamic State group, four in Spain and one each in Britain and Germany, Spain’s Interior Ministry said.
A ministry statement said the man arrested in Britain was a Salafist imam who led the group and who was sought by several countries.
The 44-year-old imam was detained in the city of Birmingham at Spain’s request. The four arrests in Spain occurred in Mallorca, where the cell was allegedly based.
Germany’s dpa news agency said a 28-year-old Spanish citizen was detained in the western city of Dortmund as part of the operation. According to the prosecutors’ office in nearby Hamm, the suspect, whose name was not released, was not known to authorities.
Spain’s Interior Ministry under minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the person arrested in Germany maintained contact with the cell and helped make propaganda videos. The suspect may be extradited to Spain.
The prosecutor’s office said it was not aware of any concrete attack plans. No details were immediately available on the names or nationalities of the other five. Police said investigations began in 2015 when they detected videos promoted by the imam that documented the recruitment, indoctrination and sending of a young Muslim resident of Spain to Syria.
Around the same time, the imam was said to have visited the Spanish island of Mallorca to begin organizing the cell and to become its spiritual leader. It said the imam was known by European police to have been recruiting militants and seeking finance for IS but that security measures he took and constant changes in address made his arrest difficult.
The ministry said the cell held regular meetings to recruit new members and actively promoted IS armed activities on social media. It said its increasing radicalization and willingness to commit jihad attacks led police in the three countries to make the arrests.
Spain says its police have been involved in the arrests of 178 suspected jihadis since the country raised its security alert to one step below the maximum in June 2015. Meanwhile, Swiss police have arrested four people this month with suspected links to jihadist organisations like the Islamic State group, fearing some posed “an immediate danger”, prosecutors said Wednesday. The office of Switzerland’s attorney general (OAG) confirmed that three people were arrested in the western canton of Vaud last Friday and Saturday, suspected of violating “the prohibition of groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and similar organisations.”
They were also suspected of participating in a “criminal organisation”, it said. A fourth man — reportedly a taxi driver suspected of being an Islamic State recruiter — was arrested in Geneva on June 14. There was no apparent link with the other three, according to the OAG. Swiss authorities have not revealed the identities or the nationalities of those arrested. In the most dramatic case, police swooped on a car outside a busy mall in Aubonne, Vaud on Saturday, in what one onlooker said looked like a scene straight out of an “American movie”. “It was surreal,” the witness told the 20 Minutes daily, describing how heavilyarmed police had blindfolded and taken the driver away.
Other witnesses told the paper that police had also taken away his passenger, a woman wearing a headscarf and with a child on her lap. But the OAG stressed Wednesday that all of those arrested were men, without explaining how the woman in the car figured in the case. It also denied reports that those arrested had been in possession of explosives, insisting in a statement that “no traces of explosives have been found until now.” OAG information chief Andre Marty did however tell the Le Temps daily that the Aubonne arrests were made because it was believed the suspects “might pose an immediate danger.”