Spanish police arrested a Belgian-born man believed by authorities to be Europe’s top recruiter for jihadist organizations.
Police said this week they’d detained 59-year-old Mustafá “Maya” Amaya, also known as “El Talibán,” in Melilla, the Spanish enclave in North Africa that borders Morocco, Spanish media reported. Amaya faces charges including terrorist indoctrination and glorification, according to El País.
Born in Brussels and of Spanish nationality, the wheelchair-bound Amaya is known to Spanish authorities for creating “one of the largest networks for recruiting and sending radicals to join organizations,” according to El Español.
Amaya was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to eight years in prison in 2018 for recruiting at least 28 people from different countries to join jihadist groups, including al-Qaida and Islamic State. He was released in 2022, before being arrested again this week.
Spanish authorities have cracked down on extremist groups since the escalation of violence in the Israel-Hamas conflict and Islamist attacks in France and Brussels. Last week, police arrested four people in another anti-jihadist operation.