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TERRORISM

Spanish police arrest jihadist recruiter working at a youth center in Melilla

Hafid Mohamed was an educator for at-risk youngsters at migrant center in Spanish exclave

Spanish police make an arrest in Melilla.
Spanish police make an arrest in Melilla. EFE

Hafid Mohamed, a 39-year-old Moroccan-born Spanish national based in the exclave city of Melilla, was working as an educator at a juvenile center before his arrest on Tuesday for jihadist activities, according to local police sources.

Mohamed, believed to have been the leader of a jihadist cell, allegedly used this position to recruit and indoctrinate at-risk youths he worked with at the Fuerte de la Purísima center for juvenile immigrants. Most of the center’s 300 youngsters, who are all under 18, are from Morocco.

Five other presumed jihadists were also arrested as part of the raid.

The cell members were undergoing a physical training program and simulating decapitations

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said that the joint police operation between Spain and Morocco broke up “a jihadist cell with a high potential for carrying out attacks.”

Mohamed worked for several years as an “assistant educator” at the center, “ever since he joined the local branch of the Popular Party (PP) and Juan José Imbroda [mayor of the city], helped him get the position,” according to police sources.

Investigators believe that “during this period, he was able to effectively conduct recruitment activities as he created a terrorist cell, now broken up, whose imminent goal was to move on to violent jihad activities.”

Imbroda called an emergency party meeting to eject Mohamed from their ranks, and said that for the last three years the suspect had not been paying his membership fees, which meant that “he lacked political rights within the group.”

Investigators found that the cell members had been holding secret meetings to plan large-scale attacks. The members were undergoing a physical training program and simulating decapitations.

English version by Susana Urra.

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