The Spanish police announced this Wednesday the arrest in Barcelona and Madrid of five alleged ‘jihadists’, among them the alleged leader who recruited the others from a group of young criminals, when they were trying to buy a Kalashnikov machine gun.
In a statement, it is stated that the operation was carried out by the General Information Commission of the National Police and the Provincial Information Brigade of Barcelona, led by the National Audience, and with the collaboration of several international secret agencies, such as the FBI, Europol and the services of Algeria’s security.
Four of the five “presumed ‘jihadists'” were arrested in Barcelona between January and March, and the fifth in Madrid in recent days.
This is the second part of “Operation Arbac”, carried out last January and in which three alleged ‘jihadists’ were arrested, one of them a supposed “returner” of the Algerian extremist group Islamic State (EI), which fought in the the Syrian-Iraqi conflict, as well as two other compatriots.
During the investigation, it was found that the detainees had the help of another person who coordinated, from Algeria, the security measures of the new arrivals in Spain so as not to be detected by the local secret services.
According to the statement, the “coordinator” was identified in the group as ‘Sheikh’ (sheikh).
When the three alleged ‘jihadists’ were arrested, attention turned to the alleged leader and, at the end of March, his entry into Spain was detected, where he settled in Barcelona.
Subsequent investigation has identified him and verified his connection to ISIS since 2016, when he was arrested in Turkey trying to enter a conflict zone to join the extremist group.
After being released, ‘Sheikh’ toured several countries, such as Malaysia, Tanzania and Algeria, where he continued to recruit young people for the organization.
In Barcelona, he surrounded himself with a group of young Algerian criminals who were dedicated in an organized way to assaulting tourists.
Since ‘Sheikh’ arrived in Barcelona, it has been found that several of the young men recruited showed “high signs of radicalization”.
The Spanish police decided to arrest them after detecting that one of the members of the group was looking to buy a ‘Kalashnikov’ machine gun.
At the residence of the leader of the terrorist cell, police found three machetes (60, 57 and 51 centimeters long) and about 70 ammunition.
Four of the detainees appeared today before a judge at the Audiencia Nacional (a court based in Madrid and with jurisdiction throughout Spain), who ordered their detention. The fifth element will be presented to the judge in the coming days.
The five are accused of belonging to a terrorist organization and of self-indoctrination. The alleged leader of the group is also accused of a crime of active self-indoctrination.