Mohamed La Morte explained how he was lying in bed at 5am on Tuesday morning when a dozen hooded and fully armed members of the Guardia Civil broke into his house as part of an anti-terrorist operation. “I was absolutely petrified,” he said. “There was so much noise and we had no idea what was going on. It was a very frightening experience for all my family.”
Like any other day, Mohamed and his brothers were still asleep prior to their usual 6 o clock alarm call, after which they would eat breakfast and prepare their lunch prior to spending another hard day working in the fields.
“One of the police told me that my brother was doing bad things. That was the only explanation that I got.” He has subsequently learned, however, that his 31 year old brother Khalid E, had been active on the internet since 2014 during which time he had been regularly disseminating content, in which he openly supported the Islamic State, praised terrorist leaders and clerics, shared videos of the terrorist organisation, including chants which incited armed jihad, as well as sharing images depicting executions of American soldiers at the hands of a jihadist sniper.
Khalid E was born on April 11, 1986 in Oued Zem, close to the tourist city of Casablanca. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed his participation in crimes of indoctrination and the promotion of Salafist jihadist terrorism, in favour of the terrorist organization Islamic State (EI or Daesh).
Plainclothes officers had the neighbourhood of La Tejera under surveillance for some time. Once inhabited by workers of a brick company it is currently a home to families that have moved to Spain from Morocco and Ecuador. The officers had studied the settlement, and the suspects home in particular, to ensure that they were full aware of all routes of access and escape into and from number 15 Calle El Caribe.
The operation was carried out Tuesday morning under the supervision of the Central Court of Instruction number 3 of Madrid. The agents burst in at dawn, entering through the main door of the house, startling the residents, Mohamed, his wife, Fatima, their two children and two brothers, Abdul and Khalid.
“We were terrified,” said Fatima, the prisoner’s sister-in-law. “I am still shaking and since the raid I haven’t been able to take my children to school.”
During the search the officers also arrested brother Abdul who was unable to produce residency papers”.
Since 2015, the Security Forces have arrested 269 jihadist terrorists in operations carried out across Spain. Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said that in the case of Khalid E., arrested in Torre Pacheco, he was “about” to go from online indoctrination to the organization and execution of a “hypothetical attack.”
Mohamed said “My brother had a contract of employment and every day he was picked up in a van where he joined a crew of day labourers to go to a melon farm in La Manga, where he worked from sunrise to sunset, from 8 am to 7 pm. He was not a dangerous person so I can’t understand why the officers acted in this way.”
The ministry disagreed, saying that over the last three years or so, Khalid E had undergone a “radicalization process” and he had “evolved dangerously” to now being “on the point of taking part in violent terrorist actions.”
Tuesday also saw three people arrested in a joint operation between French police, Spanish Civil Guards and the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan regional police).
The three were detained in the French regions of Gard and Tarn and are suspected of being closely associated with Dris Oukabir, who is currently in prison for his role in the terrorist attacks which claimed 16 lives in Barcelona and Cambils, in Spain, on Aug. 17 and 18, 2017.