MADRID, Nov 4, (Agencies): Spanish authorities said Wednesday they had detained two men suspected of being involved in the Islamic State group’s “recruitment and indoctrination” drive, a day after they broke up a “terror cell” in Madrid.
The two men were detained in a morning raid in the city of Cornella de Llobregat just outside Barcelona suspected of “maintaining contact with people in conflict zones, offering their support and encouraging them to continue their activities,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “They also allegedly actively and directly participated in DAESH (IS)’s propaganda machine, by organising private meetings to watch propaganda content produced by the terrorist organisation,” it added. The ministry said the two men — a Moroccan national and a Spanish citizen — aimed to persuade those who watched the videos or photos to join IS and go to conflict zones.
The arrests come just a day after authorities held three men who allegedly aimed to carry out an attack in the Spanish capital. Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told Cadena Ser radio that the suspects “were ready to conduct indiscriminate attacks”, including knife attacks like those recently conducted by Palestinian militants in Israel or deadly assaults with rifles. Like other European nations, Spain has been grappling with a growing number of jihadist cells on its territory and radicalised Muslims leaving to fight for IS or other Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria.
More than 100 people from Spain are suspected of having joined jihadist fighters in Iraq and Syria and authorities fear they may return to launch attacks. Some 171 suspected jihadists have been detained in Spain since Dec 2011, according to the interior minister, most of them accused of recruiting for IS rather than actually planning attacks themselves. Spain raised its terror alert to four on a scale of five on June 26 following deadly attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait. It is the highest alert level since al- Qaeda-inspired bombers blew up four packed commuter trains and killed 191 people in Madrid on March 11, 2004.
Spanish authorities said Tuesday they had broken up a “terrorist cell” linked to the Islamic State jihadist group with the arrest of three Moroccan men who aimed to carry out attacks in Madrid. Police arrested the trio, legal residents of Spain between the ages of 26 and 29, in pre-dawn raids in two neighbourhoods of the capital Madrid, the interior ministry said in a statement. “National police broke up in Madrid an active jihadist terrorist cell,” it said. It added that authorities acted quickly to detain the men because “their reactions were very unpredictable” and they had “manifested their clear willingness to carry out an attack in Madrid”. Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said that, unlike in other recent cases of suspected jihadists arrested in Spain, the men were “not devoted to attracting, indoctrinating, radicalising, recruiting” people to travel to Syria or Iraq to join IS. “Their goal was to act in Spain,” he said on Cadena Ser radio.
The suspects “were ready to conduct indiscriminate attacks”, including knife attacks like those recently conducted by Palestinian militants in Israel or deadly assaults with rifles, he added. The cell’s leader recruited others by spreading IS doctrine while the other two detained men were “operatives” in charge of carrying out potential attacks, the interior ministry said. One of the suspects was detained in a large shantytown in southern Madrid and “had easy access to an illegal market for all types of weapons”. No weapons were seized during the operation. The investigation remains open, the ministry said. Like other European nations, Spain has been grappling with a growing number of jihadist cells on its territory and radicalised Muslims leaving to fight for IS or other Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria