News / Europe

Spain Arrests Eight Suspected of Links to al-Qaida

Ceuta, Spain
Ceuta, Spain
Selah Hennessy
Spanish police have arrested eight people they suspect of recruiting militants to fight in Syria. Security forces say the network their operation broke up Friday morning is linked to al-Qaida.

The police operation was launched in Ceuta, a Spanish territory in North Africa.

Interior Ministry Jorge Fernandez Diaz said it marks a "hard blow" against international terrorism.

Spanish authorities first began investigating the network in 2009. They say it is responsible for sending dozens of combatants to al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups operating in Syria.

They say the group engaged in “funding, indoctrination, and organizing and financing travel.”

A recent report published by King’s College London said between 140 and 600 European fighters have gone to fight in Syria since the conflict began. The report said Europeans make up about 10 percent of the foreign-fighters contingent there.

Shiraz Maher is from the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization, which has collated the data.

Maher says most of the fighters come from larger European countries, including Britain, France, and Germany.

“There have been a number of factors radicalizing people, beyond the obvious sense of the brutality of the conflict and the way the conflict has been catalogued so well on open-source platforms like YouTube. That has radicalized a lot of people who have been able to see the conflict for the first time," said Maher.

He says others are people who fought in the Libyan conflict and were prepared to return to the region to fight. He says Europeans have joined other conflicts in the past, including in Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Syria has attracted a much higher number. That’s in part, he says, because of relatively easy access to the country.  

“We have the free movement of people across Europe, especially with the EU you can just move right across the continent. You get to Turkey and then from Turkey to get into Syria is very easy. The borders with Lebanon and Syria are also very porous. So there are a number of easier routes into Syria than there have been in previous conflicts," he said.

Earlier this month, the European Union’s anti-terror chief said he wanted European nations to take more action to prevent their citizens from joining the Syrian conflict.

Gilles de Kerchove said member states should vet social media and keep better track of suspicious travel.

Maher says the situation poses a problem for European countries in the long term.

“What you are going to have is a number of people returning to Europe who are heavily radicalized, who have probably been brutalized by their experience in conflict and who will also be highly trained in not just how to fight but also how to put together explosives as well," he said.

The eight suspects arrested in Spain Friday have been charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. According to the Spanish media, all the detainees are Spanish citizens.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid