Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spain breaks up online network recruiting young women for ISIS

One of four people suspected of using Internet platforms to recruit young women to join the Islamic State group
is arrested in the Spanish enclave Melilla on February 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Angela Rios)
Madrid (AFP) - Spain said Tuesday it had broken up an online network accused of recruiting young women to join Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria and arrested four suspects.

The early morning arrests came as European nations scramble to halt a surge in young people wanting to travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight with the jihadists.

Two of the suspects were arrested in Melilla, the Spanish enclave neighbouring Morocco, in the latest operation by Spain's authorities targeting such recruiting networks.

The others were detained in Girona and Barcelona in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.

The two detained in Melilla were said to be behind the creation and operation of several Internet platforms spreading propaganda, particularly for the Islamic State group, the interior ministry said in a statement.

"In line with the strategy of the Daesh terrorist group, they focused on the recruitment of women who, after a process of indoctrination, would end up joining the terrorist group in conflict zones," it said, using the Arabic name for IS.

The ministry said private home visits were also organised for recruiting purposes and a number of young people had begun preparations to travel to war zones.

One of those arrested ran a "virtual community" with Islamic State propaganda and more than 1,000 subscribers, it said.

He had a "multitude of subscribers" outside Spain on Facebook, including Latin America and countries such as Belgium, France, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States, the statement said.

One of the suspects arrested in Spain's northeast was described as an Islamic State sympathiser-turned-propagandist with the profile of a "lone wolf" who acted alone.

The other was said to have edited and distributed videos to recruit potential jihadists.

The authorities were working to establish links between the two in Melilla and those in Spain's northeast.