MADRID: A 14-year-old girl detained on suspicion of trying to join Islamic extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria was ordered Tuesday by a Spanish judge to enter a youth detention centre.
Police detained the girl and a 19-year-old woman on Saturday as they tried to enter Morocco allegedly to join Islamic State, whose fighters have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.
The pair were detained at the Beni Enzar border crossing in Melilla, one of two tiny Spanish territories on the north African coast. Both Melilla and the other Spanish city, Ceuta, share a border with Morocco.
Video footage released by the Spanish authorities showed the two teenagers, both covered in black niqabs, being led away from a small propeller plane, each flanked by balaclava-clad security men.
A juvenile court judge ordered the 14-year-old, who cannot be identified because she is a minor, to enter a youth detention centre during a closed-door hearing, a judicial source said.
The 19-year-old, Fauzia Allal Mohamed, was provisionally released but prohibited from leaving Spain, the source added.
Spain’s interior ministry said the pair, both Spanish citizens, were trying to enter Morocco “with the aim of contacting the network which would move them immediately to a conflict zone between Syria and Iraq”.
“Their intention was to join one of the cells of the terrorist organisation of the self-proclaimed Islamic State,” it said in a statement on Monday announcing their arrest.
The Spanish government has said it fears battle-hardened Islamist fighters may return to Spain from Syria and other conflict zones under the influence of Al-Qaeda-inspired groups, posing a threat of attacks.
Spanish security forces have led at least three significant raids on jihadist recruitment cells this year, making more than 20 arrests.
Spain this year marked the 10th anniversary of the March 11, 2004, Al-Qaeda-inspired bombing of four packed commuter trains in Madrid, which killed 191 people.
Since the train bombings, more than 470 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested in Spain, according to the government.