Spain Cracks Down on Recruiters for Syrian War

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Global Security Newswire Staff
June 17, 2014, 10:19 a.m.

Span­ish au­thor­it­ies have star­ted an of­fens­ive against ji­hadists sus­pec­ted of en­list­ing mil­it­ants to fight in Syr­ia and oth­er coun­tries, the New York Times re­ports.

Of­fi­cials said they were tar­get­ing Span­ish and Mo­roc­can on­line re­cruit­ers feed­ing con­flicts in West Africa, Ir­aq, Libya, Mali and Syr­ia. Po­lice said a Monday op­er­a­tion in Mad­rid net­ted nine in­di­vidu­als al­leged to have sought new mem­bers for the Is­lam­ic State in Ir­aq and Syr­ia.

Earli­er this month, au­thor­it­ies in the city of Me­lilla re­portedly de­tained a group of Span­ish cit­izens that in­cluded armed-forces per­son­nel. The ar­res­ted in­di­vidu­als al­legedly be­longed to a group re­spons­ible for send­ing two dozen Mo­roc­cans and two Span­ish cit­izens to join an Al­geri­an-based al-Qaeda af­fil­i­ate since 2012.

Span­ish an­ti­ter­ror­ism in­siders said their gov­ern­ment has elim­in­ated more ex­trem­ist groups in the last three years than any oth­er European na­tion. Still, their crack­down re­flec­ted wor­ries shared across Europe and the United States that for­eign war­zones may provide rad­ic­al­ized West­ern­ers with com­bat ex­per­i­ence they may ap­ply upon re­turn­ing home.

Spain suffered Europe’s most deadly strike by Is­lam­ic ex­trem­ists to date, when mil­it­ants killed 191 people through a string of train-bomb at­tacks in 2004.