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Poll: Spaniards divided on whether to bomb ISIS strongholds

Spaniards are divided on whether Spain should take part in the international military campaign in Syria against the Islamic State, with just over half, 54, percent, opposed, a poll published on Sunday showed.

Poll: Spaniards divided on whether to bomb ISIS strongholds
One of the Spanish soldiers sent to help train Iraqis at the Basmaya camp in Baghdad. Photo: Ali Al-Saadi/AFP
About a third, 35 percent, are in favour of joining the military campaign in Syria and the rest were undecided, according to the poll published in El Mundo newspaper.
   
The poll — carried out after the November 13 suicide bomb and shootings in Paris — also found that 83 percent of Spaniards believed a Paris-style attack could happen in Spain, suggesting that national security could emerge as a theme for a December 20 general election.
   
Another poll published Saturday in the conservative daily La Razon showed 69 percent of Spaniards wanting Spain to help France “in its fight against Islamist terrorism”.
 
By contrast with the poll in El Mundo the survey showed 49.3 percent opposing “bombing the terrorists in Syria”, compared with 43.6 percent in favour.
   
Several thousand people marched Saturday in Madrid against Spanish involvement in the Syrian conflict as conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stressed he would not rush into a decision.
   
“No to war,” chanted the demonstrators who gathered rallied outside the Reina Sofia museum in the Spanish capital. The organisers estimated their number at around 6,000.
   
With elections looming, Rajoy's government has been holding off on any decision on whether Spain will join France, the United States and others in airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Syria.
   
“Decisions have to be well thought through, as in any aspect of life,” said Rajoy, who added Madrid was in touch with its allies on a clear plan of action.  
 
 Leftist opposition parties have voiced opposition to Spanish military involvement in the Middle East.
   
The leader of the far-left grouping Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, backs putting the issue to a referendum.
   
Rajoy is mindful of how events unfolded in March 2004 under his Popular Party predecessor, former conservative prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. Aznar, who had backed the US intervention in Iraq a year earlier, was voted
out of office days after Islamic extremists killed 191 people in bombings on Madrid trains.
   
Aznar's stance on Iraq was in stark contrast to that of the public in a traditionally pacifist country.

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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