January 16, 2017 / 8:01 AM / 9 months ago

Spain arrests Moroccan accused of leading Islamist militant cell

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police have arrested a Moroccan man suspected of leading an Islamist militant cell which recruited volunteers to travel to Turkey for training by Islamic State, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The man, who held Spanish residency, was detained in the northern city of San Sebastian and was said to be working on recruiting potential combatants in person and over the internet since 2010.

“The accused was very active in finding new recruits and would approach young people at risk of social exclusion, easily influenced and emotionally unstable, and make the most of his position as boxing teacher to win their confidence,” the ministry said.

New recruits would be sent to Turkey where they would receive training and instructions for potential attacks in Europe, it said.

Two other members of the cell had already been arrested, the ministry said, including a previous roommate, who was detained in Morocco, and another who was arrested in Strasbourg, France, in November.

Since 2015, when the Spanish government raised the security alert level to one notch below the maximum, some 181 people have been arrested with alleged links to Islamist militancy, the ministry said.

Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Dominic Evans

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