Spanish and Moroccan police have arrested seven people in a ongoing joint swoop on suspected efforts to recruit women to go to Syria and Iraq to support Islamic State insurgents, the Spanish Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
Spain is among a number of European countries struggling to stop the radicalization of young Muslim citizens and deter them from becoming jihadists in Syria or Iraq, fearing they might return to plot attacks on home soil.
Four women and a man were arrested in Barcelona and the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and two men were detained in the Moroccan town of Fnideq, close to Ceuta, as part of the operation, the ministry said in a statement.
It said the seven were accused of forming a network to find, recruit and send women to Syria and Iraq on behalf of Islamic State. A ministry spokeswoman could not say whether any of the affected women were being recruited specifically to fight for the ultra-radical jihadist movement, which has seized large expanses of Iraq and Syria and drawn U.S.-led air strikes.
In the past, some women with European passports have been drawn to the side of Islamic State to join its ranks in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts or to become wives of militants.
In September, Spanish police arrested nine people suspected of belonging to a militant cell linked to Islamic State in Melilla, on the northern coast of Africa.
Denmark said on Friday it faced a “significant” threat from radicalized Muslim citizens returning home from Syria and Iraq where at least 110 people had gone to fight with jihadist groups like Islamic State.