MADRID – Spanish police who this week arrested a former London rapper allegedly turned Islamic State fighter in Syria say they have no evidence he was planning an attack in Europe, but his illegal, undocumented entry into Spain raises suspicions about his motivation.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, whose father was convicted in the U.S. of involvement in al-Qaida bombings, was one of Europe’s most wanted foreign IS fighters and “extremely dangerous” according to Spanish police.
The 29-year-old was arrested on Monday along with two more suspects in the southern coastal city of Almería.
A National Police anti-terrorism expert involved in the arrests told The Associated Press that if Abdel Bary had repented he would have sought a legitimate way of returning to Europe.
“The fact that he used clandestine means and a middleman in the illegal migration network doesn't fit the profile of somebody who wants to normalize his return," said the investigator. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the case with the media.
“At this point, we have no evidence on whether he was planning to stay in Spain or continue his trip," he added. “We also don't know what his ultimate goal was.”
Experts on religious extremism had raised worries that Abdel Bary could be part of a dormant cell or an agent in touch with other radicals in Europe.
“He was a nasty guy but it's been five years since he disappeared, we don't know what he was up to," said Olivier Guitta, director of GlobalStrat, a geopolitical risk consultancy based in London. “Is this guy coming into Europe with an idea of committing attacks? Or is he a reformed Jihadist? If he came back for an operation, that is a new game (which) puts everything in shambles.”