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TERRORISM

Isis terror suspect remanded in custody

A Spanish court on Sunday remanded in custody the suspected leader of a militant cell based in north Africa that recruited jihadists for Isis.

Isis terror suspect remanded in custody
Police arrest the the suspected leader of a militant cell based in north Africa on Friday. Photo: Spanish National Police

High Court Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez in Madrid ruled that there was a "high probability" that Mohamed Said Mohamed was the head of the cell based in Melilla, a Spanish territory on the northern tip of Morocco, and the nearby Moroccan city of Nador.

Spanish and Moroccan security forces detained Mohamed, a Spanish national of Moroccan descent, and eight other suspected members of the cell on Friday in Melilla and Nador.

Spain's interior ministry said at the time that Mohamed worked with his brother, a former Spanish soldier and explosives specialist who is currently fighting with Isis militants now in  control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Two of the suspected members of the cell are believed to have travelled in July to an area of Syria or Iraq under IS control, the ministry added.

The judge said in his ruling that there was evidence that the suspects were planning their "imminent" departure to join the Isis jihadists.

He said Mohamed had made contradictory statements during questioning, such as claiming not to know the other suspects who were detained on Friday even though witnesses had seen him meeting with them.

Moroccan authorities estimate there are between 1,500 and 2,000 Moroccans fighting in Syria and Iraq. Spain has arrested dozens of suspected extremists in raids this year.

IS fighters have beheaded a British aid worker  and two US journalists, and are holding two other Britons, Alan Henning and John Cantlie.

A US-led alliance has launched air strikes against the IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

Spain has spoken out against the brutality of Isis but it has not participated in military strikes against the militants in Iraq or Syria.

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TERRORISM

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.

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