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CRIME

Man jailed in Spain over planned drone attack at Barcelona-Real Madrid match

A man who received orders from the jihadist Islamic State group to carry out a drone attack against a Barcelona-Real Madrid football match was sentenced Monday by a Spanish court to three years in jail.

Man jailed in Spain over planned drone attack at Barcelona-Real Madrid match
The man's Islamic State contact instructed him to fly a drone packed with explosives over Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium during a Barça-Real match. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Mohammed Yassi Amrani, a former bar worker, became “a member of Daesh during a fast process” of radicalisation in 2020, according to his indictment, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

After he called for “jihad” in a Facebook post in March 2020, he was contacted online by an Islamic State recruiter who asked to communicate with Amrani through Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app.

Via Telegram the recruiter ordered Amrani to carry out an attack to “purify his life and assure a place in paradise” and make up for having drunk alcohol in the past and shunned religion.

His Islamic State contact instructed him to fly a drone packed with explosives over Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium during a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid and then blow it up.

Matches between Spain’s two powerhouse teams — dubbed “El Clásico” — are among the most watched matches in the world.

No date for the planned attack was given. At the time Spain was under a severe Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and matches were suspended.

Police arrested Amrani in May 2020 and searched his home. He reportedly lived in Barcelona at the time.

Spain’s National Court, which deals with terrorism cases, on Monday sentenced him to three years in jail for planning an attack “following an agreement from all sides,” a court spokesman did.

Barcelona’s 99,000-seat Camp Nou stadium was on a list of potential targets drawn up by the jihadist cell behind the twin vehicle attacks in August 2017 which killed 16 people in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils further south.

Also on the list of targets was Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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EXTREMISM

Spain to repatriate women and children of IS fighters from Syria

Spain has decided to repatriate several Spanish wives and children of Islamic State fighters from jihadist detention camps in Syria, the government said Monday.

Spain to repatriate women and children of IS fighters from Syria

The return of relatives of captured or killed jihadist fighters from Syria and Iraq has been a thorny issue for European countries since the fall of the Islamic State group’s so-called “caliphate” in 2019.

Thousands of extremists in Europe decided to join the group as fighters, often taking their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared in territory conquered in Iraq and Syria.

Spain plans to repatriate three women and 13 children before the end of the year, a government source told AFP, confirming a report in top-selling Spanish daily El País.

One of the women is married to an Islamic State fighter and the other two are widows of jihadist fighters.

Previously, Spain has refused to repatriate such family members of jihadist fighters.

The women face charges of cooperating with a terrorist organization for allegedly aiding the Islamic State group. If convicted, they face jail terms of up to five years.

The women have been in the detention camps since 2019. They say they were tricked by their husbands to go to Syria and did not take part in any jihadist activities, according to El País.

Spain has also agreed to repatriate a Moroccan woman who is the widow of a Spanish fighter and the couple’s three children, but they fled from a detention camp near Iraq in 2020 and their whereabouts is unknown.

France, Germany and the Netherlands are among the other European nations which have repatriated relatives of jihadist fighters this year or announced plans to do so.

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