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Spain: Police arrest woman accused of recruiting girls, teens for Islamic State in Syria

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MADRID — Spanish police on Tuesday arrested a woman suspected of recruiting pre-teen girls and teenagers to send to areas controlled by the Islamic State armed group in Syria.

An Interior Ministry statement said the woman, a Spaniard, was arrested in the city of Arrecife on the Canary Island of Lanzarote.

Separately, the ministry said Civil Guard police arrested an Algerian-born man wanted on terrorism charges by Belgium, where he previously resided. The man, whose name was not released, is a suspected member of the Islamic State group and had fought in Syria. He was arrested in Barcelona airport while waiting for a connecting flight, after flying from Algeria.

The ministry said the woman in Arrecife maintained contact with Islamic State militants in Syria, including a facilitator who gave her orders for recruiting girls and arranging their travel to Syria.

Girls and teens who she helped get to Syria ended up being sexually exploited, did domestic work and work in hospitals and had roles policing women, the statement said. A few joined the Islamic State as combatants, the statement said.

Authorities did not specify how many people the woman was suspected of recruiting but said police have been investigating her since 2014 in a probe overseen by the National Court in Madrid.

Spain has arrested dozens of suspected jihadi militants and recruiters in recent years.

On Monday, the ministry said police arrested two men in Madrid for alleged collaboration with Kurdish groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The two are suspected of having been trained to use arms and explosives and fight guerrilla warfare. The ministry said their actions affected Spain's national interests.

The ministry said it hoped to dissuade other militants from enlisting and possibly falling into the hands of the Islamic State group, which could use them for propaganda.

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