A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner was reportedly among four individuals arrested Tuesday by authorities in Spain and Morocco for alleged ties to terror group ISIS.
The Associated Press reported:
Three people were arrested in Spain’s North African enclave city of Ceuta while a Moroccan was arrested in the Moroccan border town of Farkhana, next to Melilla, Spain’s other North African enclave, statements from the two nations’ interior ministries said. One of those detained in Ceuta was the former Guantanamo detainee who was not named by Spanish authorities but described as “a leader who was trained in handling weapons, explosives, and in military tactics.” After being captured in 2002 and held in Guantanamo, he was returned to Spain in 2004, said Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
The four individuals are believed to be members of a jihadi cell trying to recruit fighters to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the Spanish interior ministry. The terrorist suspects were attempting to obtain weapons and materials to construct bombs and were planning “to carry out terrorist acts in Spanish territory,” a statement from the ministry said.
The arrests coincided with President Obama’s announcement of a plan to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay despite opposition from Republicans in Congress.
“It’s been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security,” the president said during remarks at the White House Tuesday. “It undermines it.”
The plan would involve transferring dozens of suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo to U.S. prisons.
Some detainees released from Guantanamo have been found to resume terrorist activities. The Obama administration cleared Ibrahim al-Qosi for release in 2012, and he has gone on to become a senior operative for the al Qaeda branch in Yemen.