Four Spanish nationals, three men and a woman, have been arrested in the Spanish exclave of Ceuta accused of recruiting and radicalizing minors for the self-styled Islamic state, or ISIS.
Spanish police said the four had set up a “stable structure” in the city on the North African coast to recruit minors “under the direction of Daesh [the Arabic term used by Spanish police], which urgently needs to recruit new volunteers to the terrorist cause.”
Spain’s Interior Ministry said the four had set up a “permanent communication channel” with ISIS combatants in Syria “who showed them how to recruit new volunteers by using themselves as examples of the fight against the infidel.”
There are an estimated 130 Spanish nationals fighting for ISIS in Syria
Police said that the four had taken extreme security measures, setting up a small cell to avoid setting off a chain reaction of arrests in the event of one of them being captured.
The investigation that led to the arrest shows that the four were linked to three members of another cell arrested in February and who are currently under arrest.
Figures for May 2016 show there were 129 Spanish nationals in Syria and Iraq fighting for the Islamic State. Another 29 had died and 20 had returned to Spain.
Barcelona stands out among all Spanish cities as a hotbed for radicalization: 28.2% of detainees lived in the Catalan capital or surrounding area.
Meanwhile, the exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, located along the northern coast of Africa, remain the main places of origin of Spanish Islamists.
Growing numbers of female Jihadist prisoners are becoming recruiters for the so-called Islamic State, encouraging young women to go to Iraq and Syria to marry fighters there, says Spain’s prison authority.
English version by Nick Lyne.