• Spain's news in English

Who are Spain’s jihadists?

AFP · 16 Nov 2015, 15:52

Published: 16 Nov 2015 15:52 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a timely conference held in Madrid on Monday experts from the Spanish think tank the Real Instituto Elcano shed light on the jihadist threat within Spain.

Here are eight takeaways from the report presented at the Third Forum on Global Terrorism.

Boom in arrests

In the last two years, Spanish authorities have arrested 120 people for their alleged involvement in jihadi terrorist related activities, a huge increase on the years before.

Another 13 Spanish nationals were arrested outside of Spain by other security forces.

Born in Spain

Of those detained for suspected jihadist activities between the start of 2013 and November 2015, 40.5 percent were born in Spain.

And 45 percent held Spanish citizenship, some three times the percentage of those convicted of Islamic terrorism during the period 1996 to 2012.

"There has been a boom in homegrown jihadism in Spain, consistent with the global jihadist mobilization that has been affecting Western European countries for the last four years," said the report authored by terrorism experts Fernando Reinares and Carola Garcia-Calvo.

Spanish jihadis fighting abroad

Although the exact figure is difficult to pinpoint, the number of Spanish nationals estimated to have travelled to Spain to fight for the Islamic State are thought to number around 130, according to intelligence sources consulted in the report.

But the number is low in comparison to some other countries. In the UK an estimated 700 British nationals have left to join jihadist causes in Syria and Iraq. While in France, a Senate report concluded in April that at least 1,430 of the more than 3,000 known European jihadis who had then travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis were French.

By far the majority of those detained since 2013 have been connected to, or profess allegiance to, Daesh as it is known in Arabic, or the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (Isis). But that is not the only group. Others were connected to organisations with bases in North Africa,

Not acting alone

In fact nine out of ten suspected jihadists detained in Spain since 2013 were linked to terrorist networks.

"Only 10 percent of those detained can be described as ‘lone wolves’, the rest form part of an organization," said Fernando Reinares during the terrorism conference.

Geographical hotspots in Spain

The majority (75 percent) of those detained for suspected terrorism offences were resident in Spain’s north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

On mainland Spain, Barcelona was recognized as a hotspot, with 30 percent of all foreign (mostly Moroccan) jihadists arrested across Spain were detained within Barcelona metropolitan area.

Young married men

Story continues below…

The majority of those arrested within Spain were men aged between 20 and 34. Around 60 percent of those involved in terrorist activity were married.

More women joining jihad

Just 16 percent of those detained during 2013 and 2015 were women but significantly in the 16 years prior to that none of those arrested on suspicion of Islamic terrorist activities had been female.

More converts

And 13 percent of all those arrested were recent converts to Islam, again a huge change on the 16 years previously when only one of those arrested had been a convert.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available