The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of Spain has stated that it is planning an expansion of its agents to monitor the online activities of the terrorists. The announcement was made at a security and defense seminar at Toledo by Felix Sanz Roland, the head of the NIA.
The plan is to recruit 500 more agents by 2020. Although it is a long term plan intended as a tool for counter terrorism, the primary target is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It was also confirmed by the Spanish Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martinez Vazquez.
Elaborating the reason for the recruitment of the new agents, Vazquez stated that there have been 170 ISIS sympathizers that left the country to fight with ISIS in Syria and Iraq and 20 of them returned. Those who have returned are under the surveillance or are in the custody of the authorities.
Roland also stated that the purpose of this activity is to identify and monitor the activities of the supporters of the radical terrorist groups and to counter them before they can cause any substantial damage to the assets of Spain or to the Spanish people.
Vazquez acknowledge that the number of people in Spain who have supported ISIS and those who left to fight for them has been high. But, the situation is worse in countries such as France and the United Kingdom.
ISIS has been a growing menace in the online space. Although the group is losing its ground on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, its growing clout in the online world has been a serious issue. ISIS supporters and sympathizers include a large number of hackers and computer experts.
ISIS has made an efficient use of these resources and is growing its presence online. To fight the menace, it is important to identify them and eradicate the online threats. Similarly, the Spanish government has also felt the need to reduce the online radicalism by cracking down the elements that help with recruitment for ISIS and spread the message of ISIS online.