Spain claims ′Islamic State′ busts in Ceuta and Catalonia | News | DW | 24.02.2015
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Spain claims 'Islamic State' busts in Ceuta and Catalonia

Spain has arrested four alleged "Islamic State" recruiters, including two men in its African-soil claim of Ceuta. Young men and women from across Europe have left to join 'IS' in Iraq and Syria.

Spain arrested four people on suspicion of recruiting for the "Islamic State" (IS). The arrests come as European nations scramble to halt a surge in young people attempting to travel to Iraq and Syria to join IS and similar groups.

"In line with the strategy of the Daesh terrorist group, they focused on the recruitment of women who, after a process of indoctrination, would end up joining the terrorist group in conflict zones," the Interior Ministry announced, referring to the Arabic name for IS.

The Guardia Civil arrested two people in Melilla, a Spanish exclave adjacent to Morocco. Authorities detained two others in Girona and Barcelona in Spain's semiautonomous state of Catalonia in the northeast.

The Spanish Interior Ministry accused the two in Melilla of operating several Internet platforms to spread propaganda, particularly for IS. According to the ministry, the suspects also organized private home visits for recruiting purposes, and a number of young people had begun preparations to travel to war zones. Savvy with social media, IS has even succeeded in airing its atrocities on the websites of major news broadcasters.

One of them had a "multitude of subscribers" on Facebook across Latin America and in countries such as Belgium, France, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States, the ministry reported in a statement released Tuesday.

Spain has dismantled several similar networks, particularly in Melilla and its other African-soil claim, Ceuta. Authorities will work to establish links between the two in Melilla and those in Catalonia.

A multinational trend

About 100 Spaniards have joined IS and similar groups - far fewer than have left France, Britain and Germany to fight. UK authorities say 500 citizens, possibly including three girls from London who disappeared recently, have left the country to join IS or other such groups. On Tuesday, reports emerged that a teenage South Korean boy who had gone missing in mid-February may have since turned up in Syria to begin training with IS.

French officials believe that about 1,400 residents have gone to Syria and Iraq or plan to do so. On Monday, France confiscated the passports of six suspected would-be fighters in foreign wars and officials said they would ban another 40 from traveling. France has also launched a website to discourage citizens from joining IS.

German officials estimate that approximately 500 nationals have left to join IS. Authorities are considering charging them with war crimes should they return.

mkg/rc (EFE, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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