Spanish police have arrested two people on suspicion of forming an 'Islamic State' (IS) group cell and recruiting and indoctrinating Islamic militants. The pair had made specific threats against Spain and France.
Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said on Tuesday the man and the woman who had been arrested worked within "a highly professional" network aimed at conveying "an idealized image of their struggle" in order to recruit impressionable young Spaniards and train them in the use of arms and explosives.
Both of Moroccan nationality, the male 33-year-old suspect was arrested on Tuesday in Mataro, near Barcelona while a 19-year old woman was arrested in Pajara on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura. Their names were not announced by the police.
"The new Islamic State fighters no longer need to travel to Syria or Iraq in order to be trained," according to the interior ministry statement. "The training takes place in the country where the new jihadists live."
Fernandez Diaz said the suspects were "in constant contact with the Islamic State hierarchy in Syria." Both had made a public oath of loyalty to IS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on social media.
While "specific threats" had been made against Spain and France, the minister declined to give details. The suspects had distributed multimedia material that gave information on the handling of explosives and rifles.
So far this year Spain has arrested 100 Islamic militants.
In November a series of co-ordinated attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and 368 injured. The attacks were the deadliest in France since the end of World War 2 and the deadliest in the European Union since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by individuals with EU citizenship.
Spain increased its security efforts to stop citizens from joining IS in the wake of gun attacks at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris at the beginning of the year. Last month, arrests were made in Madrid in what the government described as an important step against terrorism.
jm/jil (AP, Reuters)