Spanish police arrest man in Barcelona over ISIS terror plot

International operation helped capture ISIS suspect over fears of attack

Spanish police arresting an ISIS suspect.

Spanish police have arrested a man in Barcelona over a suspected ISIS terror plot.

The Guardia Civil force said it arrested the Moroccan man, described as deeply radicalised, on Friday after a joint investigation with security forces in Morocco and the United States.

"The suspect intended to carry out a terrorist act, the details of which are unknown," police said in a statement on Friday.

It comes just weeks after one of the UK's top ISIS suspects was apprehended in Spain.

Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, 28, one of Europe’s most high-profile ISIS terrorists, had taken advantage of the Spanish lockdown to enter the country and was using a face mask to disguise himself, authorities said.

Last week, Spanish police arrested a 48-year-old man in Madrid who was urging people to carry out attacks on behalf of ISIS and to attack the King of Spain.

The arrest of an ISIS-linked cell in Germany on April 15 is a reminder of that reality.

Terrorist organisations, mainly ISIS, have exploited the current health alert and urged their followers to carry out attacks in Europe, the Guardia Civil said.

"For this reason, the Guardia Civil have developed specific research work initiatives with the aim of detecting threats associated with this circumstance and preventing these possible actions."

Judicial agency Eurojust said the number of terrorist investigations has risen by 14 per cent over the last year.

It said it dealt with 222 terrorism cases last year, compared with 191 in 2018.

The Counter Extremism Project has also warned extremist groups are continuing to plot attacks.

“The arrest of an ISIS-linked cell in Germany on April 15 is a reminder of that reality," it said.

"The suspects were also reportedly involved in raising funds for their planned attacks, demonstrating that terror financing activities remain ongoing despite the economic slowdown.”

Nikita Malik, director of the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society, has warned that more terrorists could be using the pandemic to cross the continent.

“While those monitored by the authorities are less likely to present a threat during this period, the police must remain vigilant to those who are off the radar or may be using distractions to smuggle into Europe," she said.

“It is therefore imperative that intelligence is shared between countries to ensure that current gaps are not exploited by terrorists.”