Two Moroccan jihadists have been arrested by authorities after infiltrating the Balkan migratory route used by economic migrants to enter Europe, according to counter-terrorism sources reported by the Vozpópuli news outlet.
Both detainees had entered the European Union via the Balkan route before one was captured in Austria, thanks to an international arrest warrant, and the other in Mataró in Barcelona. After being presented to the court on Friday, the latter was imprisoned.
The investigation began earlier this year under the direction of the Central Instruction Court and the Audiencia Nacional court.
One of the detainees had lived in Spain before heading to Syria in 2014, while the other left the following year from Morocco. The latter had never lived in Spain, however, most of his relatives have been living in the country for seven years. Once in Syria, the two men under investigation joined al-Qaeda-linked groups and received military training to gain combat experience. After the loss of territory by jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, both managed to reach Turkey. They had been living there for a few months, hoping to get to Europe.
The two men under investigation managed to enter Europe two months ago via the so-called Balkan route, which took them from Turkey through to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria. In Austria, one was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Audiencia Nacional as part of an investigation by the General Commissariat of Information. The second continued his journey to Spain, where he took refuge in a house in Mataró. There he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers and, after appearing in court recently, remanded in custody.
The perpetrators allegedly participated in combat training courses and received training on the use of long-range weapons. During their stay in Syria, they put into practice all the lessons learned in these courses: The national police have videos of them in the field.
This operation is part of the coordinated effort of the General Intelligence Office and the National Intelligence Center to locate and neutralize the severe risk posed by the entry of “foreign combatants” into Europe.
In recent years, the national police have carried out several operations as part of this joint security project. In December 2018, the police arrested a foreign terrorist fighter with no previous connection to Spain in the province of Barcelona. This man had also crossed Europe through the Balkan route.