Spain de­tains two sus­pected ji­hadists

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MADRID: Span­ish au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day they had ar­rested two sus­pected ji­hadists in Madrid and found bul­lets and weapon magazines while con­duct­ing raids linked to the de­ten­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the Europa Press news agency, the magazines were of the type used for as­sault ri­fles such as the AK-47, but a po­lice spokes­woman was un­able to con­firm this when con­tacted by AFP.

The in­te­rior min­istry said the two men were Span­ish and had been de­tained for “glo­ri­fy­ing ter­ror­ism,” with­out giv­ing any fur­ther de­tails. The ar­rests come as Spain strength­ens se­cu­rity dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Au­thor­i­ties in Madrid are tak­ing un­prece­dented mea­sures for New Year’s Eve, when thou­sands gather in the cen­tral Puerta del Sol square for tra­di­tional cel­e­bra­tions that see Spa­niards swal­low 12 grapes for each stroke of mid­night.

All those en­ter­ing the square will be searched. Bol­lards will be used on nearby roads along­side po­lice vans to guard against truck at­tacks like those that hit Nice in France in July, and Ber­lin on De­cem­ber 19. Barcelona has taken sim­i­lar mea­sures. Ac­cord­ing to Span­ish au­thor­i­ties, 175 al­leged ji­hadists have been de­tained since 2015, when Spain in­creased its ter­ror alert to cat­e­gory four on a five-point scale.

Spain has been men­tioned on ex­trem­ist web­sites as a pos­si­ble at­tack tar­get for his­tor­i­cal rea­sons, given much of its ter­ri­tory was un­der Mus­lim rule from 711 to 1492. But un­like France or Bel­gium, the coun­try is less ex­posed to the risk of re­turn of rad­i­cal­ized na­tion­als who went to fight abroad and plan to com­mit ex­trem­ist acts on home soil. Only around 200 Spa­niards are es­ti­mated to have gone abroad to fight, com­pared to thou­sands from nearby France and Bel­gium. Madrid, how­ever, was hit by co­or­di­nated train bomb­ings by an AlQaeda in­spired group in March 2004 that left 191 dead. — AFP

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