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‘Change Schengen rules to catch Islamists’: Spain

Spain wants to see the Schengen treaty modified to allow border controls to be restored to limit the movements of Islamic fighters returning to Europe from the Middle East, a report said on Sunday.

'Change Schengen rules to catch Islamists': Spain
Controls at the Spain–France border would be tighter if the rules on movement within the Schengen zone were changed. Photo: AFP

"We are going to back border controls and it is possible that as a consequence it will be necessary to modify the Schengen treaty," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told the daily El Pais ahead of a Sunday morning ministerial meeting on the subject in Paris.

EU and US security ministers met at France's interior ministry on Sunday to work out a joint response to the threat of jihadist attacks following days of carnage in Paris by three gunmen claiming to act on behalf of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

"The existing mobility in the European Union is facilitating the movements (of jihadists) to any country and also to our country," the minister was quoted as saying.

The gathering was being held just hours ahead of a massive public rally in Paris against terrorism that was to be attended by dozens of world leaders. A US Justice Department official said ahead of the meeting that it would "include discussions on addressing terrorist threats, foreign fighters and countering violent extremism."

The March 1995 Schengen agreement removed passport checks on the EU's internal borders. A total 26 European nations currently have signed the Schengen agreement, 22 of them EU members.

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POLICE

WATCH: Spanish police arrest ‘most wanted’ ISIS suspect hiding out in Spanish lockdown

A former British rapper and notorious Islamic state suspect has been arrested in Spain, judicial sources said on Wednesday.

WATCH: Spanish police arrest 'most wanted' ISIS suspect hiding out in Spanish lockdown
Photo: Ministry Interior

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former rapper from west London who once posted an image of himself holding a severed head on Twitter, has been arrested in the southern coastal city of Almeria, the source said.

Police had on Tuesday announced the arrest of “one of the most wanted foreign terrorist fighters of Daesh” — the Arabic acronym for Islamic State — identifying him as an Egyptian national but without giving his name or saying exactly when he was detained.

Speaking to AFP, a Spanish judicial source confirmed it was Bary.   

Police said the suspect “had recently entered Spain illegally and was found hiding in a rented flat” in Almeria where several other people were also arrested.

“He is one of the most wanted terrorists in Europe on grounds of his criminal record within the ranks of Daesh and because he is extremely dangerous,” a police statement said.

Before arriving in Spain, Bary spent “several years in conflict zones in Syria and Iraq”, police said, describing him as presenting “some very strange personality traits and an extremely violent criminal profile which had brought him to the attention of Europe's police and intelligence services”.

Born in London, Bary shot to notoriety after his Twitter post in which could be seen holding up the severed head alongside the caption: “Chillin' with my homie, or what's left of him”.

He is the son of Adel Abdel Bary, an Egyptian who in 2015 was sentenced to 25 years behind bars by a US court for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 and wounded more than 5,000 others.

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