• Two Moroccan Imams arrested in San Antonio.
  • They face charges of supporting the terror group known as ISIS and more recently DAESH

25/10/16; Text Nick Gibbs, Images J.A.Riera

Two Moroccan Imams have been arrested this morning by the Civil Guard on suspicion of supporting the terrorist group Islamic State, as announced Tuesday morning by the Interior Ministry.

Both of the religious leaders, aged 31 and 35, preached at the Masllid al Fath mosque in San Antonio and are said to have “great influence over Ibiza’s Islamic community”.

Giving details of the operation the Interior Ministry stated that the two men, identified only by their initials, JR and AEM, were noted to have increased their internet activity in 2012. It is stated that this was at the same time as the rising of ‘the Arab Spring’ and the mass exodus of foreign fighters to join the ranks of the terrorist group Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

The statement continued to talk of concerns of investigators, stating they were worried by  “the high level of influence that both individuals had on the members of the Islamic community of the island, and considered of a particularly serious nature, their influence over children attending classes taught by themselves in the mosque”.

The Mosque from where the two arrested men preached. Photo J.A.Riera

It is understood that the Imam actively supported and promoted terrorist groups on his public social media, posting links to propaganda including videos and other publications.

The arrested pair are known to have preached adoption of the ultra-conservative Salafi ideology. Salafism is considered to be the most rapidly expanding Islamic sect in Europe. Its literal translation is ‘early Muslim’, reflecting their desire to return to a fundamentalist interpretation of the origins of Islam.

Whether or not the two Imams arrested would be considered to be representing the ideology of Salafism or not is beyond our understanding of the ideology, however the Ministry said that their preaching including the fostering of hatred, segregation and even violence against those they called “enemies of Islam”. They also repeatedly praised those Muslims who have decided to travel to areas of conflict to join the Jihad.

Since Spain adopted level 4 terrorist alert in 2015, there have been 156 arrests of suspected jihadists, including the 2 today.

The Guardia Civil operation included posting armed officers in a cordon around the arrest locations. It was undertaken with the assistance of state security officials from Morocco.

25/10/16 Update Nick Gibbs

The Diario de Ibiza have published a secondary report stating that a group of Moroccans had gathered close to the mosque. Some were speaking in defence of the Imam, stating that he was in no way radicalised. Others were of the view he was and said they no longer attended the mosque because of his extremist views.

Police were photographed removing evidence from the home of the arrested  men.