Former rapper and ISIL 'Beatle' arrested in Spain

Abdel Majed Abdel Bary appeared in lurid propaganda videos posted online from Syria and Iraq.

A former British rapper, on the run after fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, has been captured by Spanish police, officials and media said on Wednesday.

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary was caught in the southern town of Almeria, where he had been leaving an apartment sporadically with a face mask during the coronavirus lockdown, according to Spain’s interior ministry and a European security source.

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British media said Bary used to have joint British-Egyptian nationality, but was stripped of UK citizenship after joining ISIL. He had been named by The Sunday Times as one of four ISIL members dubbed “The Beatles” due to their British accents in lurid propaganda videos.

Two other suspects were arrested with him on Tuesday, Spain’s interior ministry said in a statement. “This is a significant arrest,” the security source told Reuters.

He has previously been identified as the son of Adel Abdel Bari, who is serving a 25-year sentence in a US prison over the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. As a rapper, he was known as Lyricist Jinn, and lived with his mother in Maida Vale, west London.

Bary has appeared in gory images of ISIL crimes, the Spanish ministry statement said. In 2014, he posted a picture of himself online holding a severed head, captioned “chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him”.

“The detained man spent several years in the Syria-Iraq area and presents peculiar personality features such as an extremely violent criminal profile which caught the attention of police and intelligence services in Europe,” it added.

Following Bary’s wide-ranging use of social media during his days in Syria, Spanish police posted footage of his arrest on Twitter.

Así detuvimos en #Almería a uno de los Foreign Terrorist Fighters de DAESH más buscados de #Europa. De nacionalidad egipcia, habría entrado ilegalmente en España y se ocultaba en un piso de alquiler. También se arrestó a otras dos personas que lo acompañaban pic.twitter.com/14f2v2brEg

The three suspects had come into Spain via North Africa. Spanish police were trying to determine if the other two were also ISIL members.

They are eager to intercept many of the dozens of Spanish Muslims who left for Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIL and may now want to perpetrate attacks on home soil, such as the killing of 16 people in Barcelona in 2017.

The UK’s Home Office – its interior ministry – had no comment, referring queries to Spanish police.

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