07192019What's Hot:

Spain, a Leader in Foiling Attacks, Falls Victim to One Anyway

“What’s astounding is that an attack like this hasn’t taken place inside Morocco,” said Issandr El Amrani, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, which recently published a study of Islamic State activities in North Africa.

Spanish counterterrorism relies heavily on cooperation with the Moroccan security forces, who have successfully penetrated migrant communities across Europe through a strong network of informants, despite concerns from human rights groups about their methods, Mr. Amrani said.

But that assistance also depends on the political relationship between the countries, which has been dogged by tensions over Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s enclaves in North Africa, and the simmering dispute over the Western Sahara region.

While it has cut costs in other areas, the Spanish government raised both the staff numbers and the budget this year for its intelligence services. Toughened antiterrorism legislation has allowed the authorities to arrest suspects at an earlier stage of attack planning than in Britain and elsewhere.

Until this week’s spate of attacks, 54 people had been arrested this year on suspicion of terrorist activity in Spain, where the threat of returnees from Syria is deemed relatively small.

But like so many intelligence agencies in Europe, the Spanish are overwhelmed by the volume of potential terrorism plots they are trying to monitor, said Seth G. Jones, a terrorism specialist at the RAND Corporation.

“They’re totally swamped with leads,” he said. “There is no way they can cover all their current open cases.”

Source: NYT > World

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