The Spanish police arrested a Moroccan national suspected of being the leader of an Islamist cell in the country, recruiting and indoctrinating foreign fighters to join the Islamic State (IS).
The arrest was made in San Sebastian, in the Basque Country, the Spanish Ministry of Interior announced on 16 January. According to the ministry, the man was active in recruiting young people, at risk of social exclusion, who could easily be influenced and emotionally unstable. He would make contact with them online or using his job as boxing instructor to gain young people's trust.
The man, whose name was not released by the authorities, had been recruiting for Isis since 2010. The statement from the ministry explained his allegiance to the terrorist group was expressed in social media posts in which he made a "call to do Jihad" and reiterated the "need to join the terrorist organisation," urging to travel to conflict areas. The recruits would be sent to Turkey where they would receive training and instructions from IS (Isis) militants to fight in conflict areas and carry out attacks in Europe.
According to the authorities, it only took the man five months to radicalise one of this flatmates, who then became a member of the cell. A third person involved in the cell was detained in France on 20 November as part of seven arrests made by the French police in Strasbourg and Marseille.
Spanish authorities collaborated with the Moroccan authorities, including the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) and the Directorate General of Territorial Surveillance (DGST), to carry out the arrest. "[This] highlights the excellent cooperation at national and international level as a key part in the fight against the main security threat [of] Jihadist terrorism," the Spanish ministry's statement read. Since 2015, the Spanish police has arrested 181 people suspected of being linked to Islamic terrorism.