The Spanish National Police have arrested six individuals across Madrid, Badajoz, Zaragoza, and Valencia, dismantling a criminal network allegedly involved in financing terrorism.
The suspects are accused of being part of an organisation that purportedly sent funds to the jihadist militia “Jaysh Al Islam,” a collaborator of Al Qaeda in Syria. The arrests include charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, financing terrorism, and fraud.
The operation was spearheaded by the General Information Commissioner (CGI). It als saw collaboration from the Provincial Information Brigades of Madrid, Zaragoza, Badajoz, and Valencia. Furthermore, it received support from the EUROPOL agency.
The arrests and simultaneous raids took place last Wednesday morning. They resulted in the confiscation of various documents related to the investigation and a substantial amount of computer equipment. These are all currently under analysis.
Second phase of Operation Bruder
This operation follows the 2019 investigation by the CGI into a Syrian clan settled in Spain with close ties to Al Qaeda in Syria. During that inquiry, investigators discovered the existence of a terrorist financing network. This network used different Spanish associations as fronts. They allegedly sent money to a purported humanitarian organisation called “Al Bashaer,” operating primarily in an area of Syria controlled by jihadist militias.
The NGO “Al Bashaer,” established under the guise of an association aiding orphans of mujahideen, reportedly forwarded part of the funds collected in Spain to the jihadist militia “Jaysh Al Islam.”
In March 2021, three members of this network were arrested in Madrid and Tenerife for the crime of financing terrorism. The investigation revealed that the detained individuals, from influential positions in certain religious associations, managed a fundraising campaign seemingly for humanitarian purposes, ultimately directing the funds to the mentioned AQ militia.
Deceptive fundraising campaigns
The individuals apprehended in last Wednesday’s operation were integral parts of the fundraising network responsible for sending money. They played crucial roles in sustaining the network’s illicit activities for at least eight years. Their responsibilities included promoting deceptive fundraising campaigns, redirecting donor funds to the supposed NGO, and making personal money transfers.
It was also discovered that some of the detainees held significant positions in Spanish religious associations. Furthermore, they also belonged to the network dismantled in 2019 but also played pivotal roles in its functioning.
Moreover, as of yesterday, the arrested individuals have been placed at the disposal of the Central Investigating Court Number Six.