British ‘ISIS rapper’ Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary was identified by his ears after sneaking into Spain by boat, it emerged today.
Police satisfied themselves they had the right man ahead of a dawn raid after comparing surveillance photos of the jihadi terrorist taken outside his rented apartment hideaway with file pictures of the tell-tale shape of his ears.
Bary, 29, had put on more than six stone since his days in Syria and took advantage of Spain’s coronavirus lockdown to hide behind a face mask on the rare occasions he left the property.
British terrorist Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary (pictured) is reported to be the ‘foreign terrorist fighter’ detained by Spanish anti-terror police in a raid in Almeria
Officers watching the city centre flat in Almeria where Bary holed up with two other men, confirmed it was him after his arrest on Monday through fingerprints.
But a police source quoted by respected Spanish daily El Pais said: ‘The shape of his ears was one of the things that enabled us to identify him.’
Bary, who shared sickening social media images of himself holding a decapitated head in Syria in 2014 after becoming a Muslim extremist and leaving his London home, will appear before a Madrid judge on Wednesday in a closed hearing.
Abdel Bary is thought to have been arrested after a raid in the early hours of Monday in an an area of Almeria called Cerro de San Cristobal
After joining ISIS, Abdel Bary issued threats against the West and even posted a picture of himself holding the severed head of a Syrian solder
Although there has been no official confirmation, Bary is thought to have reached Spain by boat from Algeria and come ashore unnoticed just five days before his arrest.
The boat has been described as a patera, a word normally used to describe the rickety wooden boats sub-Saharan Africans use to reach Spain from as far afield as Senegal but can include other types of vessels used by undocumented migrants.
Another unconfirmed report on Tuesday night in national Spanish newspaper La Razon claimed he was intending to return to the UK as soon as possible.
On Wednesday police in Almeria revealed they had arrested three North Africans including an Algerian accused of trying to smuggle more than 30 migrants in a semi-rigid inflatable boat fitted with a 350 cv engine which was intercepted in the Med off Almeria.
Officers stressed today the operation had nothing to do with the Bary case, but the vessel seized has sparked speculation the wanted terrorist could have reached Spain in a similar boat capable of making the 100 mile crossing between Algeria and the Almerian coast in a matter of hours.
Bary is being held in a jail near Madrid after being remanded in custody by a judge on Wednesday.
One of the other two men arrested with him, said to be a 22-year-old using a false European passport who allegedly gave Bary logistical support, has been identified only by his surname Ceddiki.
The third man has yet to be identified, although he is believed to be a possible so-called Foreign Terrorist Fighter who was recently in Turkey.
Investigators are now analysing a computer and mobile phones seized in their dawn raid on Monday for clues about Bary’s intentions.
One Spanish report has suggested he was intending to return to the UK when coronavirus lockdown was over.
But respected Almeria-based daily Ideal reported on Wednesday he picked Almeria as a ‘Plan B’ hideout after the onset of the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown scuppered his initial plans to reach Catalonia.
Barcelona has a large and well-integrated Muslim community but has been identified in the past as a hotbed for Islamic radicals.
Moroccan Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, used a rented van to mow down and kill 15 people including British-born Julian Cadman, seven, in Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas on August 17 2018.
More than 130 people were injured.
In 2013 Abdel Bary (pictured) travelled to Syria to fight with ISIS, becoming one of the earliest foreign fighters to join the terror group
Abdel Bary (pictured) was born in Egypt but moved to the UK as a six-year-old after his father was released from prison and was granted political asylum
Hours after the Ramblas attack, five other members of the terrorist gang he belonged to ploughed into pedestrians in nearby Cambrils before going on the rampage with an axe and large knives and stabbing one person to death.
The five were shot dead by police.
Ideal said investigators were probing the possibility the arrested trio could be planning a terrorist attack in Europe, although police have said nothing officially that would back up the claim and no explosives or weapons were found in their Almeria hideaway.
Bary is the son of Adel Abdel Bari who confessed to murdering more than 200 people in a series of Islamist bombings in Africa.
He emerged as a key suspect in the hunt for the man dubbed Jihadi John filmed putting a knife to American journalist James Foley’s throat before boasting of having carried out his beheading.
Spanish police released this footage of three suspects being arrested after they were discovered at an apartment in Almeria
The executioner was subsequently named as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi in February 2015.
Bary was born in Egypt but moved to the UK as a six-year-old after his dad was released from prison and applied for political asylum with his wife and family.
Before leaving for Syria in 2013 he made a name for himself as a rapper and some of his music was played on Radio 1.
He has been identified as a possible member of a group of four British-born Islamic terrorists known as ‘The Beatles’ because of their British accents, who guarded, tortured and beheaded foreign hostages in Syria.
Footage released by Spanish police on Tuesday showed heavily-armed officers raiding a ground-floor premises at night-time before bringing out three men with their heads covered during daylight hours.
A spokesman for Spain’s Policia Nacional force, referring to ISIS by its acronym DAESH, said after the three arrests: ‘National Police officers have developed a counter-terrorism operation which has culminated in the arrest in Almeria of one of the most wanted DAESH Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Europe.
‘Another two people have been arrested and the authorities are currently working to establish their identity and their relationship with the other man.’
The force added in a statement: ‘The Foreign Terrorist Fighter arrested is one of Europe’s most wanted terrorists, because of his criminal trajectory in DAESH as well as his extreme dangerousness.
‘He had spent many years in the Syrian-Iraqi conflict zone and had very peculiar personality traits as well as an extremely violent criminal profile.
‘Part of his trajectory in DAESH can be evidenced in different press and TV articles, where aspects of his activity in the terrorist organisation has been published, showing sometimes extremely crude images of his crimes in war zones.
‘The operation remains open.’
By 2015, Abdel Bary had apparently become disillusioned with ISIS and was being hunted in Turkey after fleeing Syria.
The same year his father was jailed in the United States for his role in the 1998 al-Qaeda-linked embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania.
In October 2015, Abdel Bary junior tried to have a Spanish woman flown to Turkey to join him as his bride, but the plan was thwarted by Spanish authorities.
Maria de los Angeles Cala Marquez, from Huelva, was jailed for two years in June 2018 after admitting trying to travel to Turkey to meet up with Bary and help him return to Europe.
The former hotel chamber maid was arrested when she tried to board a flight to Istanbul and travel to a secret location where Bary was on the run from western intelligence services.
According to the prosecution indictment, Cala Marquez admitted she had intended to travel to Syria to marry Abdel Bary.
The young woman had arranged her trip to Syria via Turkey and had contacted several intermediaries online to help to provide her a safe path to ISIS territory.
But the plot was foiled by Spain’s Guardia Civil paramilitary police who captured her at Madrid Airport in October 2015.