Spanish and Moroccan police have arrested the members of a six-man jihadist cell suspected of planning "large-scale attacks" in Spain, authorities have confirmed.
The Spanish interior ministry said on Wednesday 6 September that five Moroccans and one Spaniard were arrested on suspicion of belonging to an Islamist militant cell that practised beheadings. Five were arrested in the Morocco, while the sixth was detained in the Spanish city of Mellila in northern Africa.
The cell was based in Beni Chiker, a town in Morocco's Nador province. It was at an advanced stage of activity, the ministry said, without revealing whether the cell members are male or female.
The group was holding late night meetings in which members would discuss plans for large-scale attacks and practise simulation exercises on how to behead victims, the ministry added.
The cell members were "training how to slit throats with knives," MAP news agency reported.
The group leader was a 39-year-old Spaniard of Moroccan origin who worked as an assistant teacher in an education centre. "He used his position [as a teacher] for recruitment activities and to radicalise young people in a vulnerable situation," the interior ministry said.
The arrests came almost three weeks after twin terror attacks killed 16 people in Catalonia, the most terror fatalities on Spanish soil since the Madrid train bombings in 2004. Moroccan national Yunes Abouyaaqoub killed at least 14 when he mowed down pedestrians in Barcelona's popular tourist street Las Ramblas. He was shot dead by police after four days on the run.
The five terrorists who ploughed their car into people in the seaside town of Cambrils were shot dead by police. The four surviving terror suspects who are believed to be members of a cell based in Ripoll, northern Catalonia, have been charged with terrorism offences.