Five people suspected of forming an ‘active and dangerous’ Islamic State cell and promoting Islamist militancy in the three countries, were arrested by Spanish, German and Belgian authorities.
Four were Spanish and one was Moroccan, the Spanish Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz said. The group used social media, specifically a Facebook page ‘Islam en Español’ (Islam in Spanish), which had over 32,000 followers, to glorify the Islamic State and spread the message of the militant group that operates out of Syria and Iraq, the ministry said. The page referred to “martyrs” and the significance of individual Jihad and added almost 500 new members every week.
Operating almost exclusively in Spanish, the suspects are accused of commissioning attacks, radicalization, promoting Islamist militancy and acting as go-betweens for the group in Europe.Since Spain raised its alert level to 4, the second highest, in 2015, its police have arrested 143 Islamist militants, with 113 in Spain and 30 outside of the country.
Some 34 people have been arrested this year in relation to Islamist militancy, according to government figures.