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Jihadist cell which "wanted to attack" uncovered by Catalan Police

The Catalan Police Force, Mossos d'Esquadra, detained on Wednesday in several cities across Greater Barcelona 11 people who were allegedly forming an Islamic terrorist cell. The cell was "operational" and "wanted to attack in Catalonia", according to the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Ramon Espadaler. The alleged terrorists were "clearly connected to the Islamic State" and "supported its ideology", emphasised Espadaler. The cell "had 3 objectives": "recruiting young people and radicalising them", "sending some of these young people to Syria and Iraq", and preparing an attack in Catalonia. Despite this information, Espadaler highlighted that "at no time has this cell generated any kind of danger, as it has been under investigation and police surveillance for the last 13 months".

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09 April 2015 01:58 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Police Force, Mossos d'Esquadra, detained on Wednesday in several cities across Greater Barcelona and a town near Tarragona 11 people who were allegedly forming an Islamic terrorist cell. The cell was "complete", "structured" and "operational", and "wanted to attack in Catalonia", according to the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Ramon Espadaler. The alleged terrorists were "clearly connected to the Islamic State" and "supported its ideology", emphasised Espadaler. The cell "had 3 objectives": "recruiting young people and radicalising them", "sending some of these young people to Syria and Iraq", and preparing an attack in Catalonia. Despite this information, Espadaler highlighted that "at no time has this cell generated any kind of danger, as it has been under investigation and police surveillance for the last 13 months". The 11 detainees will be transferred on Friday to the Madrid-based Audiencia Nacional court. Speaking about the arrests made today, the Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández-Díaz, linked jihadist terrorism with activism for Catalonia's independence. His words were immediately rejected by many Catalan representatives, including the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas.


The Mossos d'Esquadra's police operation that took place on Wednesday morning against Islamic terrorism has resulted in 11 people being arrested. A total of 360 officers participated in the operation that has developed in 5 different towns and cities in Catalonia. 6 people were arrested in Terrassa, 1 person in Sabadell, and another individual in Sant Quirze del Vallès. These 3 municipalities are very close to each other and are located in the north-western part of Greater Barcelona. Two other people were arrested in Barcelona municipality and a last person was detained in Valls, near Tarragona (in southern Catalonia).

The Catalan Police have arrested a total of 10 men and a woman. Five of the people arrested hold Spanish nationality, 5 are from Morocco and one is from Paraguay. The Catalan Home Affairs Minister, Ramon Espadaler, explained that 4 of the 5 Spanish citizens and the Paraguayan national had previously converted to Islam. 

The Spanish Home Affairs Minister links Jihadism and Catalan independence

The Spanish Home Affairs Minister, who does not manage the Catalan Police, spoke to a radio station after the news about the detentions were released. Jorge Fernández Díaz emphasised that Catalonia hosts a third of all the Muslim population living in Spain and added that it is the main activity centre for Jihadism in the country. He also highlighted that Catalonia is "a recruitment focus" for Islamic terrorism, insisting that there are several Salafist mosques spread throughout the Autonomous Community. In this vein, Fernández Días added that Catalan political representatives have not taken this threat seriously and have had "a frivolous" attitude towards this problem for too long a time. On top of this, the Spanish Minister said that Catalan independence activists and organisations had "proselytised" among the immigrant and Muslim communities, putting forward the example of a foundation linked to the Liberal party CDC (which runs the Catalan Government) called 'Nous Catalans'. Fernández Díaz stated that such pro-independence organisations had made the fight against Islamic terrorism more difficult in Catalonia.

These words have caused an immediate reaction from several Catalan representatives. Ramon Espadaler, the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, who is head of the Mossos d'Esquadra police corps, said that Fernández Díaz's words were "absolutely unfortunate and out of place". The Director of Nous Catalans, Ángel Colom, said that the Spanish Minister's statements were a "barbarity" and asked for a clear rectification. The Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, said that the statements were "unpresentable, irresponsible and incautious". Finally, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who is on an official trip to the United States, underlined that Jihadism is a problem throughout Western Europe and its main cities, "where a public debate about independence is not being held". In addition, he warned against "stigmatising" the entire Islamic community who live in Catalonia.

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  • Mossos d'Esquadra officers arresting a suspected terrorist in Sabadell (by J. Pujolar)

  • Mossos d'Esquadra officers arresting a suspected terrorist in Sabadell (by J. Pujolar)
Jihadist cell which "wanted to attack" uncovered by Catalan Police