MADRID - Spain is facing its highest level of terror threat since 2004 because of the danger posed by jihadists, said the country's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz on Sunday.
"We are at the maximum alert level since the attacks of March 11, 2004 in Madrid," said Fernandez Diaz in an interview published Sunday, referring to the attacks that left 191 dead and nearly 2,000 injured.
The minister said he did not want to incite panic, but "the level 4 alert (out of a maximum of 5) corresponds to a reality".
The risk is heightened particularly because the head of Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recently urged the mujahideen to commit attacks in their countries for the one-year anniversary of the jihadist organisation, said the minister.
There has been a lot of activity since on social networks, he said, without giving details.
Some 116 people have left Spain to fight alongside IS jihadists, with 16 people registered as having since returned.
Although that is a relatively low number compared to other European countries such as France which has seen hundreds of citizens leave to wage jihad in Iraq and Syria, the minister also highlighted the threat posed by the "frustrated terrorist who completed the process of radicalisation but could not go fight in a war zone".