A CELL of Islamist sympathisers that had 10,000 followers on social media and was recruiting potential terrorists has been broken up.
Police arrested three suspects during raids at houses in San Sebastian and Pasaia in northern Spain.
The detained men are believed to have created the terrorist structure to carry out jihadist terrorism in support of the so-called Islamic State.
Police say that the terrorist cell was very active online, and was ‘disseminating a large amount of jihadist propaganda with the purpose of recruiting and indoctrinating young people’.
Content they shared included shocking video footage of children taking part in ‘jihadist combat’ and promoting them as role models.
The suspects created multiple profiles on social media networks, with just two of the accounts having more than 10 000 followers.
The cell helped organise regular training in fighting techniques and provided handbooks on the use and handling of weapons such as knives and guns.
The suspects used various measures to conceal from the police the criminal activities taking place online and in physical environments.
The arrests of the primary suspects of this terrorist cell was a result of a two–year-long investigation and an exhaustive analysis of information gathered throughout multiple operations conducted in the Spanish province of Guipuzcoa.
Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) supported the investigation by providing long-term analytical and operational support. During the action day, ECTC experts enabled real-time information exchange and analysis.
To ensure an effective response to the challenges posed by the terrorist threat, Europol created in 2016 the European Counter Terrorism Centre, an operations centre and hub of expertise that reflects the growing need for the EU to strengthen its response to terror.
Designed as a central hub in the EU in the fight against terrorism, the ECTC focuses on operational support to Member States in terrorist investigations. It cross-checks live operational data against the data Europol already has, quickly bringing financial leads to light, and analyses all available investigative details to assist in compiling a structured picture of the terrorist network.