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Spain: 16-year-old twin boys were set to join jihad in Syria

MADRID -- Police on Tuesday arrested four members of a family, including 16-year-old twin boys who were allegedly about to travel to Syria to become jihadi fighters, the Interior Ministry said.

A ministry statement said the parents and their sons were arrested in the northeastern city of Badalona, near Barcelona. The ministry said the four were Moroccan nationals.

The statement said the boys were suspected of planning to travel to Morocco on Tuesday before going to Turkey and finally Syria.

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The ministry said authorities believe an older brother joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria and died last year.

The statement said the twins had left school in Spain to study the Quran in Morocco and were in a process of jihadi radicalization.

A Civil Guard police spokesman said the family had lived for several years Spain but could not say how many. He spoke on condition of anonymity as force regulations prevent him from being identified publicly.

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Spain has arrested dozens of suspected jihadi militants and recruiters in recent years. Most of the arrests have been in Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish city enclaves in North Africa that are surrounded by Morocco on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other.

On March 13, eight suspected members of a jihadi cell that allegedly urged attacks to be carried out in Spain and picked people to be sent to fight for the Islamic State were arrested in several raids across Spain.

Those arrested were suspected of participating in an intense pro-jihad propaganda campaign among the immigrant community in Spain, especially Spaniards of Moroccan descent.

Last month, U.S. intelligence officials said foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq in unprecedented numbers to join ISIS or other extremist groups, including at least 3,400 from Western nations among 20,000 from around the world.