A Spanish terrorist cell funded itself through tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate sold in Denmark, according to an investigation published Tuesday led by non-profit European newsroom Correctiv.
The cell had raised at least eight million euros ($9 million) through the scheme since 2005 and spent it sending 24 Moroccans and two Spaniards to Syria, Mali and Libya to fight for the Daesh terrorist group, said online newspaper El Confidencial, a Correctiv member.
Six members of the cell based in Melilla, a speck of Spanish territory on the north coast of Africa, were arrested in 2014, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force told AFP.
A judicial investigation into the group's activities is still underway, he added.
Through contacts with jihadists in Denmark, the group formed ties with 42 mainly Danish firms and managed to put its members or supporters in senior company positions over the years, according to the El Confidencial report.
The cell used loopholes in European law to not pay value-added tax (VAT) on the food products sold by these firms, using a complex network of shell companies.
VAT fraud sees criminal groups embezzle 50 billion euros a year intended for state coffers in the European Union, said Correctiv, a collective of 42 European media outlets.