Spanish court jails Isis recruiters who indoctrinated supporters via Facebook

A Spanish court has sentenced four people to prison terms of up to seven years for recruiting and indoctrinating supporters, mainly young Muslim women, for the Islamic State group via Facebook.

Spanish court jails Isis recruiters who indoctrinated supporters via Facebook
Photo: AFP

Spain's National Court, which deals with terrorism cases, found the man and three young women guilty of terrorist indoctrination in a ruling dated September 25 which was made public on Wednesday. 

The four — two Moroccans, a Portuguese national and a Spaniard  — were arrested in October 2015.

“This group used the social network Facebook to initiate its first contacts with its victims…. mainly young Muslim women,” the court said in its ruling.   

The members then added the targets who seemed most promising to WhatsApp messenger service groups for further indoctrination.   

The ring managed to convince at least one young Moroccan woman to go to Syria but she was arrested before she left Spain and sentenced to five years in jail for cooperation with a terrorist organisation.

The stiffest penalty went to the three women who were each sentenced to seven years behind bars.

The court found Sanae Boughroum, a 26-year-old Moroccan national, guilty of “exercising the ideological leadership” of the group as well as “spreading political and religious ideas that justified violence against people and  good”.

She had planned to move to Syria as well to fight for IS, according to the court.

Two others, Laila Haira, a 23-year-old Moroccan national, and Saif Eddine Haik Aaniba, a 22-year-old Spanish national, were found guilty of running at least three WhatsApp groups with potential recruits.

The court also sentenced Fabio Miguel Medeiros Almeida, a 33-year-old Portuguese national who was in the process of being indoctrinated by the group, to four years in jail.

Almeida, who used the alias “Abderrahaman”, was arrested in Spain shortly after arriving from France to marry the leader of the ring.   

Like other European nations, Spain has been grappling with a growing number of jihadist cells on its territory and radicalised Muslims leaving to join IS or other Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria.

READ MORE: FBI helps Spain catch suspected Isis recruiter


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.