Spanish authorities have arrested a woman on suspicion of having attempted to join the "Islamic State." The country has arrested more than 20 people on similar charges since September.
The Guardia Civil arrested a Moroccan woman with Spanish residency on Saturday at the Barcelona airport on suspicion of having attempted to travel to Syria to join the "Islamic State" (IS). Authorities arrested her upon her return from Turkey, where officials had turned her and her three-year-old son back, on a warrant from Spain's top judicial body, according to the Interior Ministry.
"The detainee could have played an important role in the recruitment and delivery of female sympathizers to the terrorist group from Spain and Morocco," the Interior Ministry alleged.
Spanish and Turkish authorities had cooperated in the Moroccan woman's arrest. Her husband, also a Spanish resident, had reported her disappearance in December after she left with their son. The ministry announced on Saturday that the child, in good health, and father had reunited.
In late February, Spain arrested IS online recruiters in the semiautonomous state of Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, and the country's African-soil exclave of Ceuta (pictured). That followed a round of arrests about a month earlier in the extracontinental claim, which is adjacent to Morocco. Spain has also charged a number of citizens with fighting alongside separatists in Ukraine.
'Benefit of hindsight'
Thousands of nationals of EU member states have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside IS or other militant groups. A gunman who attempted to shoot his way into the Canadian parliament last fall claimed to be inspired by IS.
On Saturday, British police acknowledged their own mistakes in dealing with the case of three schoolgirls who left the UK to join IS. Since their disappearance in January, the teenagers' families have complained that authorities should have contacted them directly during their investigation into the disappearance of a classmate.
The unusual admission came after the families of the three schoolgirls insisted that police had let them down, missing chances that might have offered clues that 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase and their 16-year-old friend Kadiza Sultana had intended to go to Syria when they disappeared in January.
The families said Scotland Yard failed to tell them that officers had met with the girls about the disappearance of a classmate at their school, the Bethnal Green Academy in London's increasingly trendy East End. Investigators had given the girls letters to take home to their parents asking for permission to take statements, but the teenagers hid the letters.
"With the benefit of hindsight, we acknowledge that the letters could have been delivered direct to the parents," the police said in a statement released Saturday. Critics suggest that the case of the Bethnal Green girls illustrates failures in the system to both understand and combat extremists' recruitment methods.
In Iraq on Saturday, IS continued its destruction of ancient sacred sites.
mkg/sms (EFE, Reuters, AP)