Two Afghans “seeking asylum in Portugal detained over suspicions of terrorism”

With the country on high-alert over the whereabouts of an arsenal of explosives stolen from Tancos military base in Santarém last week, news today is that two young Afghan men are in police custody on suspicions of involvement with terrorism.

The 20 and 25-year-old were initially arrested by PSP police in Porto, for illegal entry and permanence on national soil.

At the police station, the men are understood to have lodged their appeals for political asylum.

Jornal de Notícias has broken the news, explaining that suspicions were raised after images of military fighters, guns and explosives were found on a PEN drive in the men’s possession.

According to JN one of the men admitted to having fought in Syria in 2014 and 2015, though he has not explained to which particular group of fighters he was attached – only that he “escaped and was the target of reprisals”.

As to what kind of reprisals, JN does not elaborate.

The situation has led a Porto magistrate to order the “reinforcement of security measures at SEF” – something that was already said to be underway nationally following the explosives heist from Tancos (click here).

The young men appear to have spent some time in Iran, and then travelled to Finland. What led them to come down south to Portugal is what investigators will now being trying to establish.

The men have said that they travelled here from Finland by train. They brought with them “a thousand euros in cash, given by friends”, say reports, as well as the pen drive which “raised the alarm of security agents who talked to them”.

As Público explains, the men do not appear to have any identity documents, and are now being held at one of SEF’s temporary asylum centres.

The investigation underway is in the hands of PJ police, Portugal’s SIS (Services of security and Information) and the Public Ministry.

This is not the first incidence of suspected terrorists on national territory, but it does appears to be rather different in the fact that these are people who have travelled here from northern Europe. In the past, asylum seekers have left Portugal in order to reach northern Europe (click here).

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