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TERRORISM

Ten sentenced to jail for planned Barcelona attacks

Ten members of a jihadist cell linked to the Islamic State group (IS) who planned attacks in Barcelona and to film a decapitation were sentenced to 8-12 years in jail on Tuesday.

Ten sentenced to jail for planned Barcelona attacks
The cell planned to target Barcelona. Photo: AFP

The defendants included five Moroccans, four Spaniards and a Brazilian, the National Court, which handles terror cases, said in a ruling.   

They were “ready to wage an attack against institutions such as the police, banks or Jewish institutions in Spain at any time, or to join the ranks of Daesh,” it added, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

The cell was based in Terrassa, not far from Barcelona, the Catalonian capital.

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Last year, another jihadist group killed 16 people in attacks there and on the nearby popular seaside city of Cambrils.   

The 10, whose cell was called “Islamic Fraternity, Group for preaching jihad,” were sentenced for “belonging to a terrorist organisation'” the court said.

The three leaders of the group were given 12 years in jail while the seven others got eight years.

In March 2015, the main leader of the cell, a Spaniard who had converted to Islam, proposed to kidnap and decapitate an “infidel” whom he had already identified, film the killing and then broadcast the video online before fleeing to Syria.

He had previously proposed that the group “commit an attack against the Catalan parliament, which no one had objected to,” according to the court ruling.

“He also justified decapitations and talked about making handmade bombs to commit attacks.”

Police found documents calling for jihad at his home and books on European organisations such as the Basque separatist group ETA or Germany's far-left Red Army Faction, the ruling said.    

Members of the cell had also gone on a recce in Barcelona, the Catalonian capital, where they took photos of the train station, a luxury seaside hotel, a shopping mall and a police station.

One member went to Syria in April 2014 and died in Fallujah in Iraq the following year.

Three others tried to follow in his footsteps at the end of 2014 but were detained at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.   

According to the interior ministry, close to a third of all arrests for “jihadist terrorism” in Spain were made in Catalonia last year.

TERRORISM

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.

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