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Spain Arrests ISIS Cell Planning Terrorist Attacks in Europe

Spain Arrests ISIS Cell Planning Terrorist Attacks in Europe

Friday, 15 October, 2021 - 09:15
FILE: Spanish civil guard members lead a person arrested on suspicion of links to militant group ISIS after a house search in Granada, southern Spain April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Pepe Marin

The Spanish police have detained five people on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group. Earlier, three other suspects were detained this year on charges of belonging to the same cell.

Investigations revealed that the ISIS affiliates have been trying to establish bases in several European Union countries and form cells to carry out terrorist plots.

The source said that these elements arrived in European countries through illegal immigration networks that use the seaports in southern Spain.

A spokesman for the Spanish police said that the detainees were very dangerous, and they almost acquired automatic weapons, including Kalashnikovs.

The spokesman said that the cell includes a group of Algerian youths, including two ISIS members, who had previously participated in the Syrian war. The agencies monitored their entry to Spain late last year.

Police sources said that following investigations and analysis of documents seized from the first group of suspects, a fourth person of Algerian nationality was arrested, whom they referred to as "Sheikh."

The sources said that the Sheikh entered from southern Spain by the sea with a group of illegal immigrants two months after the arrest of the cell members.

A Spanish security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sheikh is responsible for recruiting new jihadist elements.

He was already known to law enforcement after being arrested in Turkey in 2016 while trying to join ISIS in Syria. He was deported to Algeria and sentenced to prison on terrorism charges.

After his release, he visited countries including Malaysia, Tanzania, and from there to the lands south of the Sahara, where he continued to recruit new members.

The source said that he continued to communicate with leading ISIS members and that he is the leader of the cell whose members were arrested.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the Sheikh was surrounded by Algerian youths who had previously been prosecuted for robbing tourists in Barcelona. ​

He persuaded them to join ISIS given his "great influence," and they began to help him recruit elements.

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