They dismantled a gang linked to ISIS in Spain that called to attack Real Madrid

They dismantled a gang linked to ISIS in Spain that called to attack Real Madrid
They dismantled a gang linked to ISIS in Spain that called to attack Real Madrid

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MADRID.- Spanish police dismantled a propaganda cell linked to the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, or ISIS in English) that encouraged a series of attacks linked to the world of football, with a special focus against Real Madrid, while Euro 2024 is being played.

“The Civil Guard and the FBI have dismantled the largest online propaganda dissemination structure that the Islamic State terrorist organization had until now”says a statement published by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

The newspaper El Confidencial reported that the I’lam Foundation, a propaganda center linked to ISIS, “It had the Santiago Bernabéu as its objective,” the Real Madrid stadium, in the Spanish capital.

According to the note, the terrorist group planned attacking a bus that was transporting the Real Madrid squad, champion of the League and the Champions League in the 2023-24 season.

Images of the operation in Spain to dismantle an ISIS propaganda dissemination structure

The Spanish Civil Guard operation had the joint participation of the European Police Office (Europol), the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the police of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Estonia, Romania and Iceland. Due, Nine alleged members of the I’lam Foundation were arrested in Algeciras (Cádiz), Antas (Almería) and Salt (Gerona), according to the official statement, published last Friday.

“The first of these detainees was a subject settled in Lérida who, After reaching the last stage of the jihadist radicalization process, he decided to move to the conflict zone. Agents arrested him in January in Barcelona airport, moments before traveling,” says the Spanish government.

According to the statement, the investigation “It started in Spain in 2022, “after detecting the translation into Spanish of terrorist content linked to said terrorist organization in the I’lam Foundation media entity, and has ended with action against the servers that hosted the terrorist content.”

“As a result of the investigations carried out, it has been objectively confirmed that Those responsible for the I’lam Foundation are also the creators of other media entities related to ISIS. In particular, the Al-Raud, Fahras and Alfajr websites, as well as other similar platforms whose activity dates back to 2015, all of them currently operating under the so-called Sarh Al-Khilafa network,” the statement states.

The I’lam Foundation, one of the main propaganda centers linked to ISIS, had spread on the Internet an image in which a hooded armed man appears pointing at a Real Madrid team.

“My dear brother, wait in a place near the arrival point of the players. “Aim at them along with their fans,” it read, along with an image of a hooded man opening fire with a rifle and the target marking the Bernabéu.

The newspaper El Confidencial revealed the jihadist propaganda that called for an attack against Real Madrid

Another photo directly showed the Santiago Bernabéu: “My dear brother in Al-Andalus. A very brave goal awaits you. Break through the crowd, distract security with improvised explosives and decoys and move determinedly towards your main objective”the message indicated.

This is not the first time that a threat from groups close to ISIS to Western sports has been known, at a time when the terrorist alert is on the rise following the war in Gaza.

In April, several European cities were on alert after flyers disseminated by media related to ISIS were known in which they called to “kill everyone,” while they showed a terrorist with a rifle and in the background, the European soccer stadiums where they would be played Champions League matches (in Madrid, Paris and London).

The threat of ISIS to the Champions League

So, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior “it activated all its early warning and protection systems,” indicated the government of Pedro Sánchez. Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Gérald Damarnin said then that security measures would be “considerably reinforced” for a match between PSG and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes. “I remind you that just 10 days ago, Islamic State shared a photo of the Munich stadium and said they would take action against sports venues hosting football matches. Given the importance of the Champions League for European football, of course we are talking about the issue among ourselves,” said the French official.

According to the Spanish government, The I’lam Foundation is characterized by disseminating jihadist propaganda in more than 30 languages, among them, Spanish. “This allows you deliver the slogans and guidelines of the Islamic State with exponential dissemination to a global audience”, mentions the statement.

Both this and other platforms under the Spanish radar “do not formally integrate the catalog of official ISIS platforms” but “they currently constitute the main public access points for terrorist propaganda” of the group, both official – especially from its Amaq news “agency” – and unofficial, produced by its followers.

The ministry cites Europol’s European Counter-Terrorism Centre, which mentions that “propaganda and recruitment activities carried out via the Internet are explicitly recognized as an integral part of jihad by terrorist organizations, which allows sympathizers to be mobilized to commit attacks under the banner of ISIS”.

“The web pages investigated constantly instigated terrorist actions, and The latest terrorist attacks committed both in Europe and globally have been widely publicized“, mentions.

ANSA Agency

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