Jihadi suspect held in Barcelona spotted at Eagles of Death Metal concert

A man held in a Spanish anti-jihadist raid was spotted in September in front of a Barcelona concert hall where the band that was playing during the Bataclan attack in Paris was due to perform, police said Wednesday.

Jihadi suspect held in Barcelona spotted at Eagles of Death Metal concert
Was it a coincidence that the suspect was spotted at a venue where the band that had played the fateful night in Paris was due to perform? Photo: AFP

Eagles of Death Metal was in full swing at the Bataclan concert hall on November 13th, 2015, when armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people.

Close to a year later on September 10th, the US rock group played at the Apolo concert hall in Barcelona.

Under high alert, police stopped a Moroccan man in front of the hall and asked him for his ID, said a spokesman for police in the northeastern region of Catalonia where Barcelona is located.

He told AFP that on identifying him, police discovered alleged links to people involved in the Brussels airport and metro attacks last year that left 32 people dead and more than 320 wounded.

The attacks were led by an Islamic State cell that was also responsible for the carnage in Paris in November 2015.    

“He was put under surveillance, as was his entourage,” the police spokesman said.

On Tuesday, he was arrested along with eight others in an anti-jihadist operation.  

It is not known why the suspect was in front of the Barcelona concert hall, or whether it was pure coincidence.  

But the police spokesman said authorities don't believe he was planning any kind of attack that night.

The suspects arrested in Catalonia are due to be questioned by a judge in Madrid on Thursday.

They are also being investigated for drug trafficking, robbery and other crimes.


Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.