Police in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia arrested 18 members of a jihadi cell plotting an attack in Barcelona — and then released all but three.
The arrests have drawn renewed attention to the continuing problem of radical Islam in Catalonia, which has one of the largest per capita Muslim populations in Europe.
The cell — comprised of individuals from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Morocco — was broken up on January 15, when more than a hundred police officers raided five properties in Barcelona and the Catalan town of Igualada.
The arrests were part of a year-long counter-terrorism investigation called “Operation Alexandra,” launched in May 2017 after police received a tip that local jihadis were preparing an attack.
Catalan police, known as the Mossos d’Esquadra, said that the cell included five ringleaders who were in an “advanced process of radicalization with the aim to attack.” The cell adhered to the “doctrinal principles” of the Islamic State and were “significant consumers” of jihadi propaganda.