Authorities are keen to learn lessons from recent terror attacks In Paris and Belgium and ensure a system is in place to pick up on students who may have been radicalized and are planning attacks.
Catalonia’s regional government is finalizing plans developed by specialist anti-terrorist unit of the Mossos d’Esquadra to train teachers to keep watch for Islamic extremism, said Jordi Jané, the head of Catalonia’s regional interior ministry.
Teachers will be considered key in detecting the threat from home-grown jihadists who are inspired to join the so called ISIS terror group to launch attacks within Europe.
According to the guidelines reported in El Mundo, teachers will be told to report changes in behaviour among students such as; becoming shy and introverted, adopting traditional styles of Islamic dress or refusing to join in sports or cultural activities for “religious reasons”.
The guidelines also advise how to monitor if students are accessing jihadist propaganda on school computers and to raise the alarm if students talk about leaving school to travel abroad.
Catalonia is considered a flashpoint in Spain for Islamic extremism as it is home to the highest concentration of Muslim immigrants within Spain and has numerous mosques with links to the Salafi movement, which advocates a fundamentalist approach to Islam.
An estimated 75,000 Muslim students attend state-schools in Catalonia, representing around five percent of the 1.5million school pupils in the region.
The new guidelines are part of Spain’s Special Operational Anti-terrorist Plan which was activated in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris in January last year when the terror alert level was raised in Spain to four out of a maximum five.
A programme to screen prisoners for radicalization inside Spain’s jails is already being implemented.
Education authorities in Brussels reportedly failed to act on concerns that a student who went on to become one of the Paris suicide bombers showed signs of radicalization in the classroom.
Bilal Hadfi, 20, who blew himself up outside the Stade de France in Paris on November 13th, had reportedly expressed extremist views at the Abbessens-Funck college in Brussels before dropping out to join ISIS in Syria.
An investigation has been launched as to why no further action was taken after teachers said that had reportedly informed the education board of their fears that Hadfi had been radicalized and was travelling to Syria.
During 2015, anti-terrorist agents arrested 98 suspected jihadists according to information provided by Spain's Interior Ministry.