MADRID – The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has announced the strengthening of anti-terrorism measures for the upcoming Holy Week. The reason is the large number of people travelling and participating in celebrations taking place this week.
The operation starts on March 31 and lasts until April 10. More units are being deployed to guard and protect crowded places, transportation, and strategic targets. Officers will also carry out more random checks of vehicles and persons. This measure is not new and has already been implemented on previous occasions such as Christmas.
The fight against jihadist terrorism is a priority for the Spanish government. In addition, the risk of attacks during Holy Week is well known due to its religious character. El País writes that police arrested eight suspected jihadists in Spain this year and assisted in the arrest of eight more in other countries.
Also read: Suspected jihadist arrested in Murcia
The biggest risk posed by “terrorists or autonomous cells”
Last September, in an internal report, the National Police pointed to the “strengthening” of the Islamic State (ISIS in English) “after the period of weakness of the international coalition due to the pandemic” of covid-19. For police experts, the greatest risk in Spain is “terrorists or autonomous cells”. The Ripoll group, which committed the attacks in Catalonia in August 2017, is cited as an example. They also fear that “terrorist activities in the coming years” could be stimulated by “the release to serve sentences” of Jihadist prisoners.
The fear that jihadism targets Holy Week because of its religious nature is not new. In April 2019, an alleged terrorist was arrested in Morocco who planned to attack Seville during these dates. Shortly before, the channels normally used by the Islamic State had broadcast a video making threats about the processions in Seville and Malaga.
On January 25, police arrested Yassine Kanjaa, a 25-year-old Moroccan, in Algeciras for hacking to death sexton Diego Valencia and wounding four other people during an attack on two central churches in the city of Cadiz.