‘My brother is far from being a terrorist’
By Nadia Nasanovsky
An Argentine national, César Raúl Rodríguez was arrested in Madrid yesterday, as a suspected member of a jihadist cell accused of recruiting militants for the terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL). Buenosairesherald.com talked to his sister, Luciana, who claimed his innocence, saying he “is a practicing Muslim but he is way far from being a terrorist.”
Luciana claims that her brother was arrested just for knowing two of the other suspects detained by the Spanish police, who she said lived near César’s house in Madrid. “Being an Argentinean who converted to Islam is not helping him either”, she said, ironically, while insisting on his brother’s innocence.
At 4 a.m. on Monday, the police rang the bell at César’s door and arrested him, accusing him of being one of the recruitees that the terrorist cell -named "Al Andalus Brigade" by its members- had indoctrinated to join ISIL’s militias in Iraq and Syria. A public defender was assigned to him but he has remained cut off, Luciana explained.
"We first heard [about his arrest] in the news today,” Luciana said. “I got a call from an aunt saying she had read [about César’s arrest] in the news. I went online and I saw it was my brother,” she said, still in shock. Luciana then was interviewed by local El Liberal newspaper and insists on claiming his brothers innocence to the media, to counteract the reports about his brother being a terrorist.
Born in Santiago del Estero in 1989, César first arrived in Spain in 2001, escaping from Argentina’s economic crisis with his three brothers –Luciana stayed in Santiago-. Four years ago, the Rodríguez brothers decided to come back, this time fleeing Spain’s economic crisis. But César stayed in Madrid.
“He was about to get married, he made the choice to stay. He also had a job at a communications firm” his sister explains. César married Hanann, a Spanish with Moroccan origins and family with whom he had two daughters, now aged 3 and 8 months.
César, as the rest of his family in Santiago del Estero was an active member of the local Apostolic Christian community but before marrying Hanann he converted to Islam.
“He is a practicing muslim but not a fanatic,” Luciana stressed. “My family met his wife’s family and they are normal working people, they are practicing muslims but that’s it,” she said.
“He is an excellent person, a hard worker,” Luciana said about her brother, with whom she says she has a very good relationship, despite the long distance. “We feel impotent, not being able to help him,” she said.