Spain to recruit 500 spies in fight against jihadist terrorism

Spain’s secret service has said it needs to recruit five hundred new agents to keep the nation safe from Islamic terrorists.

Spain to recruit 500 spies in fight against jihadist terrorism
Spain's intelligence agency needs a boost to combat Isis. Photo: AFP

Felix Sanz, the head of Spain’s National Intelligence Agency (CNI), unveiled plans to boost the service by hiring another 500 personnel by 2020 to combat the “growing jihadist threat”.

Speaking at a security conference on Thursday, the CNI chief was optimistic. “We’re winning the fight” against jihadist fanaticism, he said according to a report in El Pais, citing recent successes against Islamic State on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

But he admitted that defeating Isis could take years.

READ MORE: Who are Spain's jihadists?

New recruits to the CNI are being sought in the fields of mathematics, telecommunications and computers; expertise needed to thwart a new breed of terrorism that increasingly uses new technology and social media.

During the seminar Francisco Martínez Vázquez, Spain’s secretary of state for security revealed that an estimated 170 Spanish residents have left to join the ranks of Isis.

Of those around 20-25 have returned to Spain where they are either in custody or on a watch-list. The figure is significantly lower than that in other European countries such as France or the UK.


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.