Spain rolls out new anti-jihadist plan that seeks citizen cooperation

Website, hotline and mobile app will help people report suspicious behavior

Patricia Ortega Dolz
Police arrest suspected jihadist recruiters in the Catalan city of Granollers.
Police arrest suspected jihadist recruiters in the Catalan city of Granollers.Guardia Civil

The Spanish government is launching a nationwide plan to locate potential jihadists before they become fully radicalized, and is hoping to enlist the cooperation of citizens on this mission.

Next week, the Interior Ministry will roll out a campaign called “Stop Radicalismos” which is mostly aimed at countering Islamist terrorism, but will also cover “any kind of violent radicalism.”

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz was due to present the plan to his European counterparts on Friday morning, at a Brussels meeting of the EU Internet Forum to counter terrorist content online.

Elections under threat


Jihadism is also present in Spain's election campaign. For the first time in democratic history, citizens will go to the polls in a level 4 terrorism threat scenario, forcing security agencies to deploy extra measures to ensure safety.

The Spanish campaign includes a website, a hotline (900 822 066) and a mobile alert service through the app AlertCops.

It will also create local groups comprising law enforcement officers, members of Muslim communities and other relevant members of society.

The overarching strategy is to implicate citizens in the fight against jihadism, by encouraging people to report suspicious behavior.

“For instance, if a teacher or neighbor observes someone regularly visiting jihadist sites, he or she can alert authorities through any of these tools,” said anti-terrorist sources.

The goal is early detection of radicalization in individuals, especially in “vulnerable groups.”

“The point is to take what already exists at the national level and bring it down to the local level,” said a source at the Interior Ministry. “It’s designed to detect potential radicalization in people’s everyday environment, on the street.”

The plan is bringing together 12 ministries, the National Intelligence Center (CNI), the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces and the Islamic Commission, as well as several academic centers and social groups.

All the information gleaned through these tools will end up at CITCO, the Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime, which will analyze it and consider possible action.

A counter-narrative

Meanwhile, there will also be an online campaign using messages, video footage and photographs to counter the powerful message being delivered by the Islamic State.

“It’s about countering that message, which is sinking so deep among some groups, with another one showing the real face of ISIS,” said a source. This could entail using people who have traveled to Syria and those who have been victims of jihadist terrorism.

Spain has made more jihadist-related arrests this year than any other EU country.

English version by Susana Urra

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