A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior confirmed corresponding Spanish media reports on Saturday. The arrest was made when the Syrian returnee wanted to leave Germany by train towards Germany, it said. An EU-wide arrest warrant from Spain had been issued against the suspected “Foreign Terrorist Fighter”.
The 36-year-old lives in Spain and left for Syria in 2014 to join a group close to al-Qaeda, according to the interior ministry. A 29-year-old Moroccan was traveling with him, for whom there was no arrest warrant at the time. The second suspect has now been arrested near Barcelona, it said. He is said to have traveled to Syria from Morocco in 2015. Both men are being investigated on suspicion of involvement in and support for terrorism.
extradition to Spain
According to the Interior Ministry, the two received military training from al-Qaeda groups and gained combat experience. After the defeat in the civil war, both men ended up in Turkey, from where they came to Austria two months ago via the Western Balkans route via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. The 36-year-old will soon be extradited to Spain, the Interior Ministry said. The second man was arrested and remanded in custody at a home for migrants in Mataro, in the province of Barcelona.
The Spanish police thanked all international partners who had contributed to the two arrests in a press release on Friday, the Interior Ministry reported. In addition to the US security agency FBI, Morocco’s domestic intelligence service (DGST), the German Federal Police, Europol and Interpol, this also included Austria’s Directorate of State Security and Intelligence (DSN).
“Close cooperation with our partners is essential in the fight against international terrorist networks,” emphasized Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP). The directorate for state protection and intelligence is “in the best possible position and will continue to take decisive action against these criminals,” said Karner, referring to the successful operation. “Because the fight against terror must not rest for a second – the police will continue to fight it with all consistency and severity.”