A Moroccan couple linked to jihadist networks were arrested overnight in Spain, along with their teenage sons, who were about to travel to Syria, the Spanish interior ministry said Tuesday.
The four were arrested in Badalona in the northeast, the ministry said.
“Among those arrested are two 16-year-olds who were planning to leave soon for Syria via Morocco,” the ministry said in a statement, adding the pair had planned to leave Badalona Tuesday.
In a later Twitter update the ministry said the boys had been arrested along with their parents and that all four were Moroccan.
The teens had been in contact with jihadist recruitment networks for help in organising their trip, which was to take them into Syria through Turkey, according to the authorities.
The ministry said the brothers had been under surveillance since a third brother had travelled to Syria, where he is believed to have “joined jihadists groups linked to Daesh (an acronym for the Islamic State group).”
That brother died in 2014.
The siblings arrested in Badalona were “planning to travel to the Iraqi-Syrian conflict zone with the full knowledge of their direct entourage, in particular their mother, whose other son had already died in the same conflict,” the interior ministry said.
Several cells accused of recruiting fighters for the Islamic State group have been dismantled in recent months in Spain, particularly in the Spanish north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
According to Spanish authorities, around 100 Spaniards have joined jihadist groups in Iraq or Syria, a relatively small number compared to the thousands of French, British, Belgian and German nationals who have travelled to the Middle East to wage jihad.