Spanish Authorities Search For Jihadists Who Crossed During Migrant Wave

Spanish police tries to disperse migrants at border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on May 18, 2021 in Fnideq. - At least 5,000 migrants, an unprecedented influx at a time of high tension between Madrid and Rabat, slipped into Ceuta on May 17, a record for a …
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Spanish intelligence services are said to be on the search for several known jihadists who crossed into the North African enclave of Ceuta last week after returning from Syria.

Spanish authorities were tipped off by Moroccan counter-terror services who claim that a small group of jihadists had taken advantage of the storming of the border last week to illegally enter Spanish territory.

The group are said to have crossed the border between Monday and Tuesday of last week but it is unclear how many individuals were part of the group itself, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports.

Moroccan authorities had been monitoring the group since their return from Syria but had lost contact during the storming of the border and later positively identified member of the group through photographs that had been taken during the mass crossing of the border.

Spain’s National Intelligence Centre (CHI) has increased its presence in Ceuta in recent days and claims that among the 9,000 to 10,000 people who stormed the border last week, several may have been members of the Moroccan army.

Radical Islamic jihadists have been known to exploit large flows of illegal immigrants in the past, with members of the Islamic State terror group being later caught in countries like Germany where they had applied for asylum. Some of the Bataclan 2015 attackers were said by the French government to have exploited the Europe Migrant Crisis to slip into the continent unnoticed, exploiting Europe’s functionally open borders to North Africa.

In 2017, the Islamic State terror group was allegedly paying migrants cash for people smuggler’s fees if they were willing to join the group and wage Jihad in Europe.

The report, which was published by the British think tank Quilliam, claimed that Islamic State recruiters were visiting camps in Jordan and Lebanon and offering cash for migrants to join them.

“Young asylum seekers are targeted by extremist groups as they are more vulnerable to indoctrination, make able fighters and, in the case of girls, can create a new generation of recruits,” Nikita Malik, a senior researcher at Quilliam, said.

Many of the radical Islamic extremists who travelled to the Middle East from Europe to join or fight with terrorist groups have since returned, and in countries like Sweden, they are allegedly openly recruiting.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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