Police in Spain on Tuesday arrested 17 men connected to a suspected network of Islamic State supporters, five of whom are accused of forming a terror cell planning to launch attacks in Barcelona, with the rest suspected of having stolen passports from tourists to support the aspiring jihadists.
The group had been the subject of covert investigation for 18 months, Catalonia’s regional police force said, meaning the probe started at a similar time to the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils of August 2017 in which 16 died.
Speaking after the raids, Miquel Buch, Catalonia’s interior chief, said there had been no risk “at any time” of the group pulling off an attack as they were being closely tracked by the police with support from Spain’s CNI secret service.
“Those arrested wanted to commit attacks, but that doesn’t mean they had the actual capacity to carry out a terrorist act”, Mr Buch said.
Five men aged between 33 and 44 were believed to have made up the hardcore of the cell. Police said three of them are from Algeria, while one is Libyan the other Iraqi. All of the suspects lived in Barcelona.