Ex-death squad hit man in Spain arrested in jihadi probe

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2016 6:54 AM

MADRID (AP) — A Spaniard who carried out a killing for a right-wing paramilitary death squad in the 1980s was arrested Tuesday for allegedly preparing to carry out an Islamic State-inspired suicide attack, the Interior Ministry said.

The man, from the northern Basque city of Irun, had traveled to conflict zones in Afghanistan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, and had expressed a willingness to carry out suicide attacks if needed, the ministry said.

The ministry said he had served time for the 1984 killing of a Frenchman in the name of Spain's former Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups, a death-squad organization known by its initials GAL that waged a "dirty war" against Basque separatists in the 1980s.

The ministry said he was self-taught in jihadi religious extremism and actively promoted IS, and praised terror attacks in Europe on the internet. The ministry said he had become increasingly radical in recent months and had tried to obtain material to carry out a suicide attack on transport systems.

Neither police nor the ministry would give details on the man's identity or where he allegedly planned to carry out the attack. The statement said police considered him highly dangerous and believed he could have access to weapons.

The arrest took place in the central city of Segovia.

The ministry says Spanish police have arrested 173 suspected jihadi activists since Spain raised its national security alert to one step below maximum following attacks in France and elsewhere last year.