Spanish police working in conjunction with Moroccan security forces on Friday dismantled a cell responsible for sending jihadist fighters to Syria and other conflict zones.
Spain’s Interior Ministry confirmed that, so far in what is still an ongoing operation, seven people had been arrested, three in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the coast of North Africa, and one in Malaga, with a further three people detained in Morocco.
The person considered to be responsible for the cell is among those arrested. The ministry also confirmed people with links to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda were among those arrested.
Spain has been on high alert for terrorist attacks in the last week, given Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which was carried out by groups linked to Al Qaeda and was the worst terrorist outrage in Spanish history, causing 192 deaths and almost 2,000 injuries.
The past 10 years have seen the arrest of 472 suspected jihadists (479 with Friday’s arrests), while the number of agents specializing in anti-terrorist activity in Spain has risen to almost 3,000, five times more than were working in this area prior to March 11, 2004.