Spain arrests 5 people as suspected members of jihadist cell

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish police said Wednesday they arrested five suspects — four in Barcelona and one in Madrid — believed to be part of a jihadist group that sought to recruit others to its cause and was attempting to acquire weapons.

Police said anti-terrorism officers decided to detain the group upon learning that one member was trying to purchase a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Raids discovered machetes and ammunition, police said.

Police said the alleged leader of the group is a man known as “Sheikh” who had been arrested in Turkey in 2016 when he had tried to join the Islamic State extremist group. He entered Spain in March and allegedly began recruiting and indoctrinating others to his cause, police said.

This was the second part of the police operation “ARBAC” that led to the arrest of three Algerian nationals in Barcelona in January.

During that first part of the operation, police became aware of “Sheikh” when investigators confirmed that there was a person in Algeria who tried to help group members enter Spain without being detected by Spanish security forces.

The operation counted on the support from Spain’s intelligence services, the FBI, Europol and the security forces of Algeria.

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