14 ar­rested in anti-ji­hadi raids in Morocco, Spain

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY PAUL SCHEMM AND CIARAN GILES

At least 14 sus­pected mem­bers of a cell that re­cruited ji­hadi fight­ers for the Is­lamic State group in Iraq and Syria were ar­rested Tues­day in a joint op­er­a­tion in Morocco and Spain, author­i­ties said.

Morocco’s In­te­rior Min­istry said that 13 peo­ple were ar­rested in raids in sev­eral cities across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Nador and Ho­ceima on the Mediter­ranean coast close to the Span­ish en­clave of Melilla, as well as Fez and Casablanca. One of those de­tained had pre­vi­ously been ar­rested un­der the coun­try’s anti-terror law.

A Span­ish In­te­rior Min­istry state­ment said at least one ar­rest took place in the cen­tral Span­ish town of San Martin de la Vega, just south­east of Madrid.

The Moroccan In­te­rior Min­istry said the net­work was aimed at re­cruit­ing fight­ers for the Is­lamic State to fight in Syria and Iraq and also to carry out oper­a­tions in Morocco.

Moroccan and Span­ish author­i­ties have pre­vi­ously car­ried out joint oper­a­tions fo­cused on the two Span­ish en­claves in North Africa, Melilla and Ceuta, and the sur­round­ing Moroccan cities.

A heav­ily armed Moroccan, orig­i­nally form the north­ern city of Te­touan, was sub­dued on a high­speed pas­sen­ger train on Fri­day as it passed through Bel­gium, but there were no in­di­ca­tions the raids were con­nected to that case.

Morocco fre­quently an­nounces the dis­man­tling of Is­lamic State re­cruit­ing cells, of­ten based in the north­ern city of Fez and linked to other north­ern cities.

Morocco is one of the main sup­pli­ers of fight­ers to the Is­lamic State and in July, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mo­hammed Has­sad said 1,350 Moroc­cans had joined the group, of which 286 had been killed.

He added that 30 net­works have been dis­man­tled in the past two years, 12 of those just in the past six months.

Span­ish po­lice have ar­rested some 50 sus­pected ji­hadi mil­i­tants and re­cruiters so far this year.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Jorge Fer­nan­dez Diaz said last month that 126 peo­ple had left Spain to join the Is­lamic State group in re­cent years. Of these, he said 25 had been killed and 61 re­mained abroad. He said that of the 25 known to have re­turned, 15 were in prison and 10 were free, and there are ar­rest war­rants out­stand­ing for 15 oth­ers whose where­abouts are un­known.

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