The jihadist organization Daesh (ISIS or so-called Islamic State) emerged from the Iraqi branch of the Al-Qaeda group and started producing online propaganda for recruitment and funding in 2013. In the recent years, it started inciting attacks on Wester Europe and a study conducted by the researchers Fernando Reinares, Carola García and Álvaro Vicente from the Elcano Royal Institute points out how Spanish Muslims have radicalized recently mainly due to meetings with jihadists who live in the country.


               In order to understand the radicalization process in the country, the researches studied the files of 178 individuals who were arrested in Spain from 2013 to 2016 for activities related to jihadist terrorism. Some of them exchanged online messages with the so-called recruiters or even met them. Others simply became radicals after having some kind of contact with jihadists.


              The study “Dos Factores que Explican da Radicalización Yijadista em Espanã” has focused on four administrative provinces: Barcelona, Ceuta, Madrid and Melilla. The profile of the 178 individuals follows some patterns: the great majority are men, between 18 and 38 years married, of Moroccan or Spanish nationality. Commonly, they are descended generations of immigrants from Muslim countries. One in 10 is a convert. According to the study, men are around 26 years when they start becoming radicals and the women usually start radicalizing around 21 years old.


              With regard to occupation, these individuals usually work in the service sector or as skilled workers, unemployed or of unknown occupation. Most of the radicalization processes began in 2011 or 2012, coinciding with the unleashing of the Syrian civil war and the establishment of a jihadist territory in northern Mali.


Besides revealing details of these people, the study also analyses the environment in which these people were recruited. The majority of these individuals were radicalized in the company of others with exposure to both social media and online extremist propaganda. Only ten men were classified as self-radicalized after been in contact with online extremist content. The researchers identified that recruiters in Spain can be activists, friends, religious figures and even some relatives.


According to professor Miguel Ángel Vázquez Liñán, Doctor of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid,  “if you have this identity problem and you have a problem that normally goes beyond – that is, with justice- having moments of your life of instability, you are an easy prey or, at least, a potential prey”. Vázquez Liñán also emphasizes the success achieved by the Daesh propaganda structure:


There is a quality of the technically speaking propaganda material that is superior to the most of those that have been seen in that cut so far; and this has to do mainly with the possibilities of funding they have


Since 86,9% of the cases studied in Spain had some contact with recruiters, the researchers end up the report recommending the detention of radicalization agents and their neutralization by a coordinated action of the police, intelligence services and judicial authorities. Fernando Reinares, Carola García and Álvaro Vicente also calls authorities attention to the importance of national programs that prevent jihadist radicalization, mainly in areas known by their potential to enable to radicalization.


Additional information: According to the Islamic Commission of Spain, there are currently 1.200 places of worship in the country, 80 of them are known for its radical messages. These radical messages are mainly detected during political assessments.

By Paula R.


The full report can be accessed here: