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Spain raises terror threat level due to risk of jihadist attacks

Security forces to step up monitoring at airports, train stations, hospitals and government buildings

Imad Eddin Barakat, aka “Abu Dahdah”, a Syrian-born Spaniard who participated in the 911 attacks.
Imad Eddin Barakat, aka “Abu Dahdah”, a Syrian-born Spaniard who participated in the 9/11 attacks.

Spain’s security agencies are stepping up their monitoring efforts at the country’s airports, train stations, hospitals, government buildings and other key sites in response to the heightened risk of jihadist attacks.

The secretary of state for security, Francisco Martínez, ordered increased security measures as the government raised the level of the terror threat in Spain from low to high.

The latest crimes claimed by the Islamic State group and the progressive deterioration of the situation in Iraq and Syria are evidence of “a direct threat by jihadist terrorism against Western countries, with particular concern for US, French and British interests,” said the Interior Ministry.

Despite the added oversight at the country’s transport hubs and other “critical infrastructure,” the Spanish government is not yet contemplating “exceptional measures.”

For several months, the ministry has had “worrying indications” about the growing risk of a terrorist attack in Spain, but resisted raising the alert level because of the inconvenience that added security checks can pose for regular citizens, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said on August 29.

In 2013, Spanish law enforcement agencies arrested 44 jihadists for belonging to terrorist organizations. Between 2001 and 2014, 25 operations against jihadism were carried out, resulting in 122 arrests. These figures were released last week after Fernández Díaz met a delegation from the US Senate.

Documents seized from arrested jihadists in recent months show plans to reconquer the old territory of Al-Andalus (covering much of modern Spain and Portugal), which was under Muslim rule from 711 to 1492, when the Catholic Monarchs reclaimed it.