45% of jihadists arrested in Spain since 2013 are Spanish nationals

New study shows big spike in homegrown Islamist radicals, with more women and converts

Patricia Ortega Dolz
Spanish police arrest a 22-year-old woman after trying to join ISIS in October.
Spanish police arrest a 22-year-old woman after trying to join ISIS in October.

A new study on the evolution of jihadist activity in Spain shows a marked increase in the number of radical activists with Spanish nationality.

Between 2013 and November 15, 2015, law enforcement agencies arrested 120 individuals suspected of engaging in Islamist terrorism activities. Of these, 45 percent held Spanish citizenship, according to a report by Fernando Reinares and Carola Garcia-Calvo, investigators at the Real Instituto Elcano think tank.

Barcelona and its metropolitan area are the preferred grounds for jihadists living in Spain

“There has been a boom in homegrown jihadism in Spain, in tandem with the global jihadist mobilization that has been affecting Western European countries for the last four years,” reads the report, which was presented on Monday at the Third Forum on Global Terrorism, held in Madrid.

The figures show that the percentage of detainees with Spanish nationality is three times higher than the prevalence of Spaniards among people who were convicted of jihadist terrorism or who died in suicide attacks between 1996 and 2012.

Geographically, Ceuta and Melilla are the biggest sources of jihadist activity on Spanish territory. The exclave cities, which are physically located along the northern coast of Africa, are the birthplace of 75.8 percent of all detainees arrested for jihadist activities since 2013.

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As for the remainder, most of them were Moroccan nationals, the study finds.

Barcelona and its metropolitan area are the preferred grounds for jihadists living in Spain – 29 percent of all arrests were made there.

The researchers also noted a change in the average homegrown jihadist: they are increasingly younger, and for the last two years there has been a significant presence of women.

Since 2013, 60.9 percent of the suspects were between 15 and 29 years old, while 15.8 percent were women and 13.1 percent were converts to Islam.

English version by Susana Urra

Minister issues call not to equate refugees with terrorists

Miguel González, Catania (Sicily)

Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés on Monday spoke against restricting entry to refugees fleeing war zones on the assumption that some jihadists may slip into the European Union.

“We cannot equate immigrants and refugees with terrorists. We cannot stop humanitarian action just because it may pose a risk. What we need to do is minimize that risk,” said Morenés aboard the Navy frigate Canarias, inside the Sicilian port of Catania.

The minister also ruled out having Spain join the coalition that is bombing the Islamic State. “Nobody in the coalition against ISIS has asked us to do anything more [than we are already doing], which is already quite a lot.”

Spain has 300 military instructors in Baghdad and Besmayah, where it is training Iraqi troops to fight jihadism. Morenés also noted that Spain is supporting France in Mali, Senegal, Gabon and the Central African Republic on global security issues.

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