Three men arrested in Madrid with suspected links to Islamic State

The detainees were prepared to carry out attacks in Spain, according to official sources

National Police officers in Vallecas (Madrid) where one person was arrested on charges of forming part of a group linked to Islamic State.
National Police officers in Vallecas (Madrid) where one person was arrested on charges of forming part of a group linked to Islamic State.Víctor Lerena (EFE)

The Spanish police arrested three Moroccan nationals resident in Madrid in the early hours of this morning. The detainees are thought to have been planning attacks on Spanish soil in the name of jihadist militant group Islamic State (ISIS). According to sources from the investigation, the men were prepared to carry out “terrorist acts, at any time, similar to those that have taken place recently in neighboring countries.”

The arrested men “were ready to attack” and had “access to weapons,” according to the interior minister

In telephone and internet conversations monitored by security forces the three are alleged to have said that they had “to act in Spain now,” without specifying exactly how.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said that in contrast to other recent jihadist terrorism-related arrests in Spain, which have been connected to groups seeking to recruit members to ISIS, the trio detained on Tuesday “were ready to attack” and had “access to weapons,” reports Fernando Garea

The operation is still ongoing, with searches being carried out at the homes of the three detainees, who are all aged around 25 and have been living in the Spanish capital for several years, according to radio network Cadena SER.

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The operation was coordinated by the High Court public prosecutor, and carried out by officers from the National Police in Cañada Real, a shantytown on the outskirts of the Spanish capital known as a “supermarket” for drugs, where two of the suspects were arrested, and the neighborhood of Vallecas, where the third suspect was detained.

Spain has carried out more operations against ISIS than any other European country so far. With Tuesday’s arrests, 60 people have now been detained in the country in relation to Islamist terrorism this year. Another 27 suspects have been arrested in other countries, principally Morocco, related to the recruitment of terrorists for ISIS in Spain, according to the Interior Ministry. The government has set the anti-terrorist alert at level four, just one step down from the maximum.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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