Agents of the National Police have carried out a counter-terrorist operation that has resulted in the arrest of two FTFs (Foreign Terrorist Fighters). Both detainees had secretly entered Europe together through the so-called Balkan route, and have been arrested for allegedly belonging to a terrorist organization.
The first of them was arrested in Austria, thanks to a European Arrest Order (OEDE) issued by the National High Court in the framework of an investigation by the General Information Commissioner. The second has been arrested in Mataró (Barcelona) where he had arrived a few days ago and, after being brought to justice today, he has entered prison.
In conflict zone since 2014
The investigation began at the beginning of the year when the General Information Commissioner obtained information that two FTFs, linked to Spain and of Moroccan nationality, were planning to enter Europe. From that moment on, the steps began under the direction of the Central Court of Instruction number Six and the National High Court Prosecutor’s Office.
One of the detainees had lived in Spain before moving to a conflict zone in 2014, while the other had left Morocco the following year. The latter had never lived in Spain, but a large part of his family had lived in our country for seven years.
Once in Syria, those under investigation were inserted into Al Qaeda-related groups and received military training to gain combat experience. After the loss of territory in the Syrian-Iraqi zone by terrorist groups, both managed to move to Turkey where they have been living for the last few months, waiting to be able to cross clandestinely to Europe.
The two investigated managed to enter Europe two months ago using the so-called Balkan route, which made them travel through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. In the latter country, one of them was arrested by virtue of a European Arrest Warrant (OEDE) issued by the National High Court in the framework of an investigation by the General Information Commissioner.
The second FTF continued its journey until it reached Spain, where it took refuge in a home in Mataró. There he was arrested by agents specialized in the fight against terrorism and, after being brought to justice today, he has been imprisoned.
This operation has been carried out by the General Information Police Station and the Barcelona and Valencia Provincial Information Brigades in coordination with the National Intelligence Center. In addition, it has had the close collaboration of the FBI, Moroccan DGST, Austrian DSN, German police authorities and EUROPOL, in addition to the assistance of the Spanish National Central Bureaus of INTERPOL and SIRENE.
Coordinated fight against returned FTFs
This operation is part of the coordinated effort of the General Information Commissariat and the National Intelligence Center, in collaboration with other international Services, in locating and neutralizing the serious risk that the entry of FTFs into Europe entails.
Within the framework of this common security project, the National Police has carried out various operations in recent years. In December 2018, an FTF without any previous link with our country was arrested in the province of Barcelona, who had also crossed Europe through the Balkan route.
In April 2020, a British jihadist was arrested in Almería who had gained notoriety during his journey when, after joining DAESH, he had photographed himself with a decapitated head. Finally, and already in 2021, an investigation was carried out in Barcelona, in two different phases, which allowed the arrest of two Algerian citizens who had become members of DAESH after arriving in the conflict zone.