Spanish police announced the arrest of a woman identified only as “Silvia C.” on Tuesday, believed to have been in contact with Islamic State jihadists in Syria and responsible for recruiting women and girls as “sex slaves” for jihadis in the Middle East.
The Spanish Ministry of the Interior released few details, stating the investigation that led to her arrest remains ongoing.
The woman was arrested on Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. In an extensive report, El Mundo cites a number of police sources divulging details the Ministry of the Interior did not provide in their statement, including her name, the description of her as being 44-years -old, and “a Spanish Spaniard,” according to one source, having successfully recruited about a dozen women to ISIS.
El Mundo reports that Silvia C. is from Cádiz and was seeking to recruit girls and women to be “sex slaves.” She is a convert to Islam and, while having actively recruited underaged girls, is believed to have only successfully recruited women. The newspaper claims she converted to Islam and was radicalized after spending four months in Mauritania, where she also made her first contacts with the Islamic State.
In addition to convincing women to join the terrorist organization, the suspect allegedly was tasked with helping the women get to Syria and Iraq, planning the logistics of joining ISIS without getting caught on the way to the Turkish border. Police have reportedly identified the specific jihadist in Syria that sent her orders on how to plan these voyages for Spanish girls.
El Mundo adds that her arrest was the product of a months-long investigation into an ISIS cell in Spain, one that became public in 2014 after the arrest of two girls who had planned to leave Spain for Syria. Their arrest followed a mass arrest of nine jihadists in Melilla, all believed to be tied to the Islamic State. Silvia’s arrest is a product of interviews and investigations directly following that mass arrest.
Spanish Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz issued a public statement warning that the jihadist threat in Spain is “a phenomenon evermore present” in the country, and he refused to provide more details on Silvia’s identity, because police are investigating others with ties to her and the Islamic State. He noted that women are “increasingly” involved in jihadist activity, and targeting the recruitment of women has become pivotal in curbing the expansion of the terrorist group.
Before the arrest, Fernández Díaz had elevated the national terror alert to Level 4, the nation’s highest. “We are at the maximum alert level since the attacks of March 11, 2004 in Madrid,” he said on Sunday, adding that many of the threats the government is tracking have appeared on social media. It is believed that more than 100 Spanish nationals are fighting or living among Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.