Seven suspected Islamist terrorists have been arrested and detained in Spain in connection with a plot to bomb a Jewish bookstore in Barcelona.
According to a report posted by the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, the would-be terrorists were among 11 people arrested last Wednesday in a sting operation.
Spanish authorities have been investigating reports of a plot to attack a number of Jewish sites, officials said. It is not clear whether a specific terrorist group was behind the plot or not — and if so, which one it was.
All seven were placed under formal investigation – a step short of arraignment on charges – and are being held pending trial.
The investigating magistrate said Friday the group had planned to target a number of synagogues, the Catalan parliament, police forces and public shops in the Catalonia region, according to the report he received from prosecutors.
More than 30 people have been arrested so far this year in a crackdown on terror networks by Spain since a week-long series of terror attacks in Paris by Al Qaeda and ISIS-linked operatives this past January left 17 dead.
Six of the seven suspects being held in Catalonia are suspected of belonging to a terror group with a profile similar to that of ISIS (also known as Da’esh, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.) The seventh member of the cell is additionally suspected of aiding the terror group and possessing weapons and explosives.
A detainee described as the cell’s founder told members he had been “about to attack a Jewish bookshop in Barcelona,” the magistrate said in the report. According to the plot described therein, the terrorist leader suggested attackers hide in a van armed with hand grenades and guns. Synagogues, police forces and the Catalan parliament were suggested as good targets and a bank branch manager was suggested as a kidnap hostage.
Among the items discovered during a search by security officials were 25 empty bags that contained traces of chemicals that could be used to make explosives, according to the report.
Three people who were initially detained were granted a conditional release. A fourth is reportedly a minor and has been sentenced to six months in a youth reform center.Hana Levi Julian