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Spain arrests boxing coach suspected of 'Islamic State' recruiting

Police in Spain have arrested a boxing trainer who is suspected of heading an 'IS' recruitment cell. The man allegedly used boxing contacts to send youths to Turkey where they were trained to carry out attacks in Europe.

Authorities arrested a boxing coach who was the suspected leader of a cell that spread propaganda and recruited fighters for the militant "Islamic State" (IS) group, Spain's Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The arrested man, a Moroccan national, specialized in "sending foreign fighters to Turkey where they received instructions from Daesh to commit attacks in Europe," the ministry said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Police arrested the suspect in San Sebastian in northern Basque Country, but officials did not provide the suspect's name or age.

The suspect was "very active" in online recruiting efforts and indoctrination since 2010, the statement said, adding that he used his personal contacts through his work as a boxing coach.

According to the Interior Ministry, the suspect targeted predominantly "young people threatened by social exclusion."

Officials said the suspect had ties with another suspect arrested in Strasbourg, France on November 20. He also shared an apartment in San Sebastian with a man who was detained in Morocco. Both men followed "concrete and precise instructions from Daesh," the ministry said.

In November, French police detained four men in Strasbourg who were suspected of plotting attacks on Paris, having researched a police headquarters, a Christmas market and Disneyland Paris as potential targets.

A total of 181 alleged extremists have been detained since June 2015 when Spain raised its terrorism alert to the second-highest level of 4, the Interior Ministry statement read.

The country has been mentioned on extremist websites as a possible attack target, but it has been spared any incident since March 2004 when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid - killing 191 people.

rs/se (AP, AFP, dpa)

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