One of Europe’s most wanted ISIS terrorists, British former rap artist Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, has been caught in Spain.
Spanish anti-terror police raided a rental apartment in Almeria on Tuesday and arrested Abdel Bary, who had recently entered the country.
He and two associates used the coronavirus outbreak to sneak into the country and wore surgical masks to disguise their appearance, officials said.
Video of the raid shows armed police outside the apartment before apprehending the men and leading them out with their heads covered.
The General Directorate of Police said the man was a “high-ranking”, Egyptian-born member of ISIS.
“National police officers have carried out an anti-terrorist operation that has culminated in the arrest in Almería of one of the most wanted foreign terrorist fighters in Europe,” it said.
“The detainee spent several years in the Syrian-Iraqi conflict zone and has both very peculiar personality traits and an extremely violent criminal profile, which caught the attention of the European police and intelligence services.”
Abdel Bary, 28, once posed with a severed head in Syria and promised death to all westerners.
He was raised in London and left Britain to join ISIS in 2013.
Abdel Bary later left the group in 2015 after sustained coalition bombing and has been on the run since.
His father, Adel Abdel Bary Sr, believed to be closely linked to Osama bin Laden, was jailed in the US in 2015 over a plot to blow up an embassy in Africa.
He was extradited from the UK in 2012 and sentenced to 25 years for conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 embassy bombings, which left 224 people dead.
Authorities are checking if the two others arrested in the Almeria raid had also returned from Syria.
They said the terrorist and his companions used “iron-clad” security measures to try to avoid detection.
“After a complex investigation it was possible to determine the circumstances of his arrival on the Almería coast, as well as his subsequent movements, finally achieving his location and arrest,” police said.
“Those arrested adopted iron-clad security measures, both in their journey from North Africa to our territory and in the movements they made in Almería.
“The detainees, once in Spain, adapted their behaviour to the situation as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, making few exits, leaving separately and always with masks to avoid being detected.
“The operation is still open and, at this time, intensive work is being done to verify the identity of the other two detainees and the ultimate reasons for their presence in Spain."
Police said the operation was conducted in collaboration with the National Intelligence Centre.
“Agents searched an apartment where the three detainees were hiding in the Andalusian city,” they said.
“The investigation was carried out thanks to international co-operation when agents specialised in the fight against terrorism, in collaboration with the National Intelligence Centre, were working on the possibility that this foreign fighter intended to return to Europe through our territory.
“This operation is a sign that, despite the health crisis, the National Police and the judiciary continue to collaborate actively in the fight against terrorism.”