The Spanish government has arrested a woman, identified as Samira Yerou, after Turkish authorities sent her back to Spain, suspecting she was attempting to enter Syria and join the Islamic State (ISIS). Spanish authorities have noted that evidence exists indicating Yerou was also working to recruit new members for the terrorist group.
The Agence France-Presse reports that the Turkish government apprehended Yerou during what authorities described as an attempt to enter Syria illegally with her son. According to Spain’s ABC newspaper, Yerou was first arrested in Turkey on March 3. It is believed she was trying to join the Islamic State. Yerou was arrested upon landing in Spain’s El Prat Airport.
Yerou, a Moroccan native and Barcelona resident, first appeared on law enforcement’s radar after her husband reported her and their three-year-old son missing in December. Spanish law enforcement also reported that the child was in good condition and had been reunited with his father while Yerou is being kept under custody.
Police officials told the press that Yerou appeared to be working to recruit African and European women to join the Islamic State before attempting the voyage herself. “She could have played an important role in recruiting and sending of women sympathisers of the terrorist group in Europe and Morocco,” according to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.
Media were on hand during Yerou’s arrest to record the incident.
Spain has been battling an especially enthusiastic effort on the part of the Islamic State and its supporters to recruit Spanish women to join the Caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The Spanish government announced in December that, of all the known Spanish citizens to join the Islamic State, twenty percent have been women. The government has worked to expand its efforts to crack down on recruitment operations, arresting four men in late February for organizing a recruitment operation form Ceuta, a Spanish territory on the African mainland near Morocco.
The Islamic State has expressed intense interest in conquering Spain, or at least terrorizing it. Islamic State-affiliated hackers took over the websites of at least forty municipalities in Spain in January, replacing the websites with favorable propaganda for the terrorist group. That same month, Spain arrested another four men suspected of plotting jihadist activities, though these men were described as having a similar profile to the jihadists responsible for the French Charlie Hebdo murders–jihadist sympathizers acting independently, but in favor of the Islamic State. Previously, in November, nine men were arrested for allegedly organizing an Islamic State sleeper cell within Spanish borders.
Last July, Islamic State members believed to be on the border between Syria and Iraq recorded a video in Spanish vowing to “liberate” southern Spain, using the medieval Arabic term for the region, al-Andalus.