"We are at the maximum alert level since the attacks of March 11, 2004, in Madrid," Jorge Fernandez Diaz stated in an interview released Sunday, referring to terror attacks targeting the commuter train system in Madrid, which killed 191 people and injured nearly 2,000 others.
While emphasizing that he did not intend to trigger panic by his warning, Diaz said, "The level 4 alert (out of a maximum of 5) corresponds to a reality."
The Spanish minister also attributed the heightened terror threat to a recent statement reportedly by the so-called leader of the Takfiri ISIL terrorists, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, calling on foreign members of the terror network to wage attacks in their home countries.
Diaz also stated that there has been a lot of activity on social networking sites since Baghdadi's statement but did not elaborate on the contents of the communications.
Local reports indicate that nearly 116 Spanish citizens have left the country to join the ranks of ISIL in Syria and Iraq while 16 of them are registered as having returned home.
The Spanish minister highlighted the threat posed by what he referred to as the "frustrated terrorist who completed the process of radicalization but could not go fight in a war zone."
The number of militants leaving Spain to engage in ISIL's terror campaign in Iraq and Syria is far lower compared to hundreds that have left other European countries such as Britain and France.