Yassin Ahmed Laarbi, a Spanish national, was arrested Monday as the reputed leader of an Al Qaeda-linked faction engaged in recruiting jihadis for terrorist groups operating in war-torn Syria.

Eight other suspected members of the same faction were arrested on June 21 in Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous city in North Africa.

Authorities intended to apprehend Laarbi on that occasion, but they did not find him at his home, the Spanish Interior Ministry said Monday in a communique.

Laarbi, who had remained at large and was wanted by Spain's National Court for belonging to a terrorist organization, was a candidate to join terrorist groups in Syria, authorities determined.

The now-busted network operated from Ceuta and the nearby Moroccan town of Fnideq.

Apparently linked with Al Qaeda affiliates, the Laarbi group devoted itself to recruiting, indoctrinating and facilitating the transfer of dozens of activists to training camps and war zones in Syria, where some 100,000 people have died in a civil war that started in March 2011.

Security forces have evidence that dozens of people traveled from Ceuta and Morocco to Syria with the help of this network and that some participated in suicide attacks and others went to training camps. EFE