Anti-terrorist operation leads to arrests in several parts of Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
anti-terrorist operation

Spain’s national police arrested four people on Friday for “conversion drive and recruitment of jihadists”.  The arrests were the result of an anti-terrorist operation in different parts of Spain.  

According to the Policia Nacional, officers made four arrests in the cities of Huetor-Tajar (Granada), Cubelles (Barcelona) and Madrid. Those arrested have been handed over to the court. The latter ordered the detention of a man nicknamed ‘Caliph’.  who recruited youths, a married couple and a fourth indoctrinated person through the network. 

According to the national police, it was established that the detainees, “connected through closed groups on social networks”, had undergone a process of radicalisation.  

The anti-terrorist operation against these individuals was launched back in 2022, after discovering the activities of a man who, under the pseudonym ‘Caliph’, was the ‘creator and administrator of several groups.’  He tried to indoctrinate in the jihadist faith’. According to the police statement, he was responsible for “stirring up” his followers. He then created “private groups” to which he invited trusted radicals to speak “openly” about the terrorist cause.  

Since last year, police had been following the trail of these groups. This allowed them to make progress in the investigation and meanwhile identify other members. They were “all young people” who, although they did not always know each other physically, were connected through the network. Two of them married and lived together after getting the approval of ‘Caliph’.  

A marriage that spoke of ‘shedding blood’ 

The national police reported that “this new relationship marked a turning point in the investigation”. Moreover, it led to a significant increase in the radicalisation of these two individuals. They recorded videos in which they spoke of ‘shedding blood to regain Al Andalus and restore the Caliphate’. 

The arrests come amid a wave of instability following clashes between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Spain has had a level four out of five anti-terrorist alert since 2015. But since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, the interior ministry has ordered police reinforcement in certain ‘sensitive’ areas, including several embassies and facilities related to the Jewish community.  

Fighters tracked in Spain 

Spain is tracking 12 returned jihadists from Syria and Iraq. Although these people are free, they are ‘one of the biggest challenges’ to the terrorist threat. 

Following the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist organisation has launched a call for attacks around the world, to which several people in France and Belgium have responded. In the northern French city of Arras, a Chechen man slit the throat of a secondary school teacher on Friday the 13th while shouting ‘Allah Akbar’. In Brussels, a fighter from Islamic State carried out an armed attack on supporters of the Swedish national football team. Two of them were killed and a third injured. 

EU countries in talks on security 

Following both attacks and in light of the war between Israel and Hamas, EU member states agreed on Thursday to activate the Integrated Political Crisis Response Mechanism to regularly monitor the impact of the conflict on the security of EU countries. A Council of Interior Ministers was held in Brussels on Thursday 27.  Here, they expressed concern about a possible increase in “radicalisation and polarisation” on European soil. 

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