Friday, April 22, 2016

ISIS suspect working as hotel chef at favourite Brit holiday island was 'obsessed with guns'

Suspected ISIS recruiter Mohamed Harrak managed to hide his obsession with guns and the military as he worked as a hotel chef, serving British tourists every summer.

He was described as a "threat to national security" after being arrested in a dawn raid on Tuesday at his home on the holiday island of Majorca.

And now more images of the 26-year-old worker have emerged indulging his passion for guns when he wasn't cooking meals for British and Irish tourists at the four-star hotel he worked at in the popular resort of Santa Ponsa.

Pals of Harrak have also claimed he was a fanatic of airsoft, a paintball-style game in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with pellets from replica firearms.
  Mohamed Harrak
Moment armed police in Majorca raided the home of a 26-year-old Moroccan suspected of helping to plan terrorist attacks in Europe
Police make a dawn raid at a home in Majorca
His weapon of choice was a replica of a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rife, the standard rifle for the Spanish Armed Forces.

Loner Harrak, who is being investigated on suspicion of actively recruiting ISIS fighters as well as promoting terror attacks in Spain and Europe, bought the gun as well as military fatigues including a flak jacket and facemark so he could indulge his passion as regularly as possible.
  Mohamed Harrak
  Mohamed Harrak
Mohamed Harrak on holiday in Spain
He bragged about his love of the war game on his Facebook site where he posted photos of himself surrounding a remote stone building with his gun at the ready and firing his rifle in the woods.
  Mohamed Harrak
The suspect, apprehended by around 15 masked police who seized computer equipment they are now analysing, also used social media to publish a picture of a juggernaut crushing a local police patrol car.

The hotel chef used to get around the island on a high-powered motorbike he had an accident on last September.

In a Facebook post last November after the deadly Paris terrorist attacks which now seems bizarre in the light of the accusations against him, he chose the French flag as his profile picture and wrote: “Not In My Name.”

Early this morning Harrak was led into a courtroom in Majorca for his first court appearance since his arrest amid tight security.
  Mohamed Harrak
Harrak has appeared in court following the arrest

A judge at Madrid’s central criminal court the Audiencia Nacional was due to quiz him via video link in the behind-closed-doors hearing before deciding whether to release him on bail or remand him to prison pending an ongoing probe.

Reports in Majorca claimed Harrak had dreamed of becoming a police officer - but those dreams were thwarted after his application for Spanish citizenship was turned down because of an unidentified “family problem.”

Friends of the Moroccan-born immigrant, who used to live in the rundown Palma neighbourhood of Es Rafal before moving to a flat in nearby Son Gotleu where he lived with his parents and three younger siblings spoke of their astonishment at his arrest.
  Mohamed Harrak
  Palma, Majorca
Palma in Majorca, where the arrest was made
Interior Ministry officials have said the police operation against him permitted “the rapid neutralisation of a direct threat” and described him in a statement - without naming him - as a “threat to national security.”

A spokesman, referring to ISIS by its acronym Daesh , said in a statement: "The man now under investigation played an important role in the maintenance of internet groups of a radical yihadist nature.

"They were structured into groups with perfectly-defined different functions, all of them under his supervision.

"He actively participated in two groups. One of them was focussed on searching for people on social media who could be vulnerable to terrorist recruitment.
"Once they’d been selected, the recruiter contaminated them with radical messages, eliminating those who weren’t receptive and focussing only on those who responded positively.

"Once the ideal candidates had been narrowed down, a third phase kicked in. Investigators will now attempt to determine whether the aim was a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.
"In the second group he played an important role as a catalyst and controller, directing his efforts to the formation of a small contingent destined for Iraq and Syria with the aim of joining the ranks of Daesh .

"He advised its members how to operate to avoid being detected by the forces of law and order before arriving."

A pal in Majorca, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m astonished at the accusations being levelled against him.

“He was timid and didn’t speak much but he seemed like a normal bloke to me.”

Toni Sales, president of the technical committee of a Majorca-based basketball federation, said Harrak had refereed games for eight years alongside police and Civil Guard officers before claiming last September he was stopping because he was going to Morocco to get married.

He recalled: “He was very introverted and didn’t mix much with others but he wasn’t at all religious.
  Mohamed Harrak
Mohamed Harrak was arrested on Tuesday morning
“I know from talking to other refs that he sometimes said things about internet videos about explosives, and on social media he had photos of games of men shooting, but I can’t see him placing a bomb and I struggle to see him as a terrorist.

“We have refs who are local police and Civil Guard officers and I would have expected them to act if they had suspected something.”

Harrak is understood to have worked as a chef the Viva Rey Don Jaime Hotel in Santa Ponsa, an all-inclusive resort hotel a few minutes’ walk from the beach.

Travel group Thomson describes it on its website as a British favourite with home-comfort cooking and family-friendly entertainment.

Local reports said Harrak’s locker at the hotel had been searched after the raid at his home and scales police are said to suspect he used to weigh out cocaine for sale were confiscated.
A receptionist said the hotel was not making any comment about Harrak today after claiming on the phone: “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Regional government vice-president Biel Barcelo tried to restore calm after the shock arrest by insisting Majorca was a safe place for tourists.

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