Spanish police conducting 368 investigations into Islamist terrorism

Government is chiefly concerned about combatants returning home from Syria and Mali

Right now there are 837 terrorism investigations underway in Spain, of which 368 involve Islamist groups, according to counter-terrorism sources.

The Interior Ministry considers that the risk of a new Islamist attack in Spain is “high,” and the government has activated a Level 2 alert because of the “probable risk of an attack.”

On March 11, 2004 Islamists blew up several commuter trains in Madrid, killing 192 people and injuring 1,858. Before that, in April 1985, another Islamist bomb attack killed 18 people at a Madrid restaurant.

Most of the National Police and Civil Guard investigations into jihadist activities are taking place in Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba, Málaga and Ceuta. The regions of Catalonia and Andalusia have the greatest number of apartments and business premises under surveillance.

Taking population and size into account, Catalonia is the region where the bulk of this police effort is being aimed”

Of the 368 investigations into Islamist terrorism, 234 are fully active while 134 are in a “latent” state, awaiting further developments.

“Taking into account the population and size of the regions, Catalonia is where the bulk of this police effort is being aimed,” says the counter-terrorism report. The regional Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, have their own anti-terrorism units working on detecting Islamist activities.

Around 20 percent of the investigations are not assigned to any specific geographical location because they are taking place online, particularly on jihadist websites, which make it difficult to know where the suspects are located.

The main hubs of radical Islam activities are in Catalonia, the Mediterranean and the exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in north Africa. The greatest threat comes from local self-radicalized groups and lone wolves, who find inspiration in the idea of global jihad preached by Al Qaeda. But authorities are chiefly concerned about Islamist combatants returning home after fighting in Syria and Mali.

In 2013, law enforcement agencies opened 97 new lines of investigation into terrorism in general. Besides Islamists, other targets of police inquiries include the Basque terrorist group ETA, and anarchist and anti-system groups.

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