MADRID (AP) — Spanish police arrested seven suspected members of a jihadi cell linked to the Islamic State group and Jabhat al-Nusra militants during raids Sunday in the eastern provinces of Valencia and Alicante, and in Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said the cell had sent arms, bomb-making materials and electronic equipment to Syria and Iraq in shipments disguised as humanitarian aid.
In a statement, police said the cell was well-organized and coordinated by a ringleader who ran a business that enabled him to ship containers with technological supplies, weapons and military equipment from Spanish ports to armed groups in operating in Syria and Iraq. The cell is suspected of also supplying funds for IS and Jabhat al-Nusra and of money laundering, the statement said.
The ringleader was also contacted on several occasion by IS urging him to supply women for combatants in Syria and Iraq to marry, "following guidelines set down by the Islamic State group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," the statement said.
Police said they began investigating the suspected cell in 2014 and the arrests took place early Sunday. It said the investigation has uncovered evidence that those arrested provided "logistical support that was essential for the maintenance of terror activities" in Syria and Iraq. Four of those arrested have Spanish nationality but are of Syrian, Jordanian and Moroccan ancestry. Two others are Syrian and Moroccan nationals living in Spain.
The Interior Ministry later said a seventh suspect was arrested Sunday but didn't give further details.
The investigation, which is still going on, is being coordinated by Spain's National Court in conjunction with state prosecutors.