Skip to main content

Moroccan suspected of being terrorist arrested in Spain

By Al Goodman, CNN
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 2224 GMT (0624 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mohamed Echaabi allegedly had tried to acquire firearms and explosives
  • He was allegedly planning killings in Spain and elsewhere in Europe
  • Echaabi had been under surveillance prior to Thursday's arrest
  • Echaabi is considered a "lone wolf"

Madrid (CNN) -- A man suspected of being an Islamic terrorist has been arrested by Spanish police in Valencia, the Interior Ministry said Friday.

The Moroccan suspect, Mohamed Echaabi, is considered a "lone wolf" who was planning targeted killings and other attacks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, the ministry said.

Echaabi is considered by police to have a profile similar to that of Mohammed Merah, the self-styled al Qaeda jihadist who authorities said killed seven people in Toulouse, France, in March 2012. After a 32-hour standoff, Merah was killed by police in his home.

Echaabi, arrested Thursday, had been under surveillance for some time, the ministry said in a statement. He was recruited by terrorist networks and educated himself via the Internet, it said.

He is alleged to have planned "to commit terrorist actions against relevant personalities or other objectives in agreement with the doctrine of global jihad, as much in Spain as in other European countries.

The ministry said that the man had attempted to acquire firearms and explosives.

"Echaabi underwent a process of radicalization in which he acquired firm, extreme convictions that led him to leave Spain and travel to Gaza in 2011 with the goal of carrying out an action of suicidal character against Israeli interests," it said.

In an effort to hide their radical ideology and blend in with others, such individuals may not follow the precepts of Islam, "which is why it is common that they wear Western clothes, don't have beards, drink alcohol, smoke or eat pork -- all with the goal of passing unnoticed and integrating in the society they want to attack."

That formula for carrying out terrorist attacks requires sophisticated intelligence efforts by international police services to uncover and is espoused by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, the ministry said.

CNN's Tom Watkins contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT