Spain’s Civil Guard has detained four terror suspects in the provinces of A Coruña and Almería. The men, arrested early on Monday morning, are alleged to be members of immigration networks used by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist terrorist group.
Those networks are thought to have aided four terrorists who were smuggled into Europe by ISIS via the Greek island of Leros in October 2015. All four were meant to take part in the Paris attacks in November 2015, which left 130 people dead. However, two were arrested in Austria before they made it to France.
Investigators believe the suspects arrested in Spain on Monday were in contact with at least one of the men arrested in Austria both before and after the Paris attacks, the Interior Ministry has said.
Up to 450 citizens or residents of Spain may have traveled to Syria and Iraq over the last two years to join ISIS
Civil Guard intelligence services are now trying to establish whether the detainees are linked to the Paris attacks or were only involved in the people-smuggling ring which brought nearly 200 immigrants to Leros on October 3, 2015.
In a separate operation carried out on Sunday, Civil Guard officers arrested a Canary Islands resident of Palestinian origin at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. The man is suspected of trying to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.
Spain has been at terror alert level four – the second-highest level – since the jihadist attacks against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2014.
Up to 450 citizens or residents of Spain have traveled to Syria and Iraq over the last two years to join ISIS, according to figures released recently by the Moroccan Center for Strategic Studies. That figure more than doubles the official number of Spain-based recruits estimated by the Interior Ministry, which talks about 190 individuals.
English version by George Mills.