Trial starts in Spain of jihadist caught in Warsaw

The trial of jihadist Abdeldjalil Ait El-Kaid, arrested in Warsaw in 2015, started on Monday in Barcelona. He is charged with carrying out an attack on the Sagrada Familia basilica in the Catalan capital.

The trial follows an almost three-year investigation into activities allegedly connected with the 34-year-old Moroccan. In 2014 he moved from Alicante in eastern Spain to Syria to become a fighter with the so-called Islamic State (IS) organisation. After around a year in Syria, the jihadist returned via Poland, allegedly with a plan to carry out an attack in Barcelona. The target of the attack, according to prosecutors, was the Sagrada Familia basilica, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.

"After travelling through several European countries, El-Kaid reached Poland," Spanish daily El Mundo reported. "In June 2015, he was arrested by (Polish) services thanks to information earlier received from the Spanish gendarmerie."

According to the Spanish daily, El-Kaid travelled to Poland via Serbia, among other countries. He left Syria's Raqqa, then a bastion of IS in Syria, bound for Europe. He was accompanied to Belgrade by French jihadist Reda Hame, who later made it to France alone. Hame also apparently used Poland as a transit country.

According to Spanish investigators, the pair planned an attack on the Sagrada Familia basilica. The mastermind of the attack was reportedly Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a known jihadist leader, who on November 13, 2015, carried out attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

El-Kaid was charged in Spain with belonging to a terrorist organisation and planning an attack. The prosecutor has requested a prison term of 10 years, arguing that El-Kaid "is a dangerous criminal who has undergone training in the use of firearms and explosive materials, as well as recruiting new members to IS."