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Police: Arrests Neutralize Jihadi Cell That Was Planning Attacks

AP Photo / Paul White

The latest suspects are Spaniards of Moroccan origin, arrested in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta. The arrests were connected to the detention of four other suspected members of the same cell Jan. 24, authorities said.

"The group broken up was fully operative and made up of individuals already radicalized and ready for possibly carrying out of attacks in our country or those around us," the ministry statement said.

It gave no concrete details as to how the group was prepared to carry out attacks, but said the group had access to the weapons black market, adding that a Glock handgun had been confiscated in the January raids.

Police said the six cell members had similar profiles to the two French brothers who killed 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris in January. It gave no further details.

The statement said the cell members were physically and mentally ready for jihadist activity and adopted complex security measures when moving about or communicating.

The ministry said the group followed the directives of the Islamic State armed group via social media networks and jihadist websites.

In January, police arrested four Spanish citizens with Moroccan roots— two pairs of brothers — and seized a pistol, ammunition, military fatigues, face-concealing hoods, machetes, knives and Spanish vehicle license plates.

A judge ordered three of the suspects jailed because they posed a potential threat to the country's security. The fourth was released, but ordered to stay in Spain and report to authorities weekly.

Spain and Morocco have arrested dozens of suspected jihadist militants and recruiters in recent years, especially around Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish cities in North Africa that are surrounded by Morocco on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other.

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