The Spanish security services are concerned by a dramatic increase in the activities of Salafist jihad groups in Spain. More and more mosques are being taken over by Islamic zealots with connections to Al Qaeda and other dangerous terrorist groups in North Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Many thanks to our Spanish correspondent Hermes for translating this article from Monday’s Alerta Digital:
Salafism continues to grow in Spain
Security services and experts on the issue warn that the presence of Salafism in Spain continues to grow. Eight years after the 11-M terrorist attacks, the Salafist groups are more and more established in the country. The majority of the perpetrators of this terrorist attack belonged to the Salafist movement “Jihadia”
It’s the most conservative branch of Islam, and includes various terrorist groups from Morocco that use violence and terror in order to impose Sharia law. The Salafists follow the guidelines of Al-Qaeda and are settled in the region of the Maghreb and Spain. Eight years after the 11-M terrorist attack, police experts warn that their presence in Spain continues to grow.
Police have documentary proof that in the last twelve months the presence of jihadi Salafists has increased in Catalonia, Tarragona, La Rioja, Aragón, Navarra and País Vasco. These are police reports from the end of the last year that show that the leaders are Moroccans living in Tarragona and Gerona with connections to terrorist units in the North of Morocco and several places in Europe. The majority are permanent residents in the country and are granted the right to work till 2014. In Catalonia, Navarra and Vizcaya, national security forces have detected the presence inside the Muslim community of an important active group of followers linked to and financed by Salafia Jihadia. According to these police reports, the tactics the Salafists used was to join Muslim cultural associations and gain control over already active mosques.
For this purpose, they introduce a spiritual leader (a sheik) linked to the Salafists who has undergone religious training in Saudi Arabia and who has the task of gaining followers through the radicalization of sermons and the indoctrination of youngsters willing to fight Jihad. In the Pais Vasco and Navarra the police are worried about the struggles between Salafists and less radical Muslims for the control of mosques. According to a police report from last summer, the Salafist movement has already gained control over two cultural associations and two mosques in Vizcaya. One of these mosques is that in which the majority of the members of the Muslim community in Bilbao gather.
For the last three years a Salafist congress has been held in Sestao-Vizcaya, with the participation of spiritual leaders from Europe and the Middle East. The sheiks came from Belgium, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. All meetings were attended by more than 2000 faithful Muslims, many of them from Senegal and Morocco.
These congresses were financed through institutional grants given by the Pais Vasco and donation campaigns organized in a number of mosques. Two years ago they received the amount of €30,000 for the second congress from institutions of the Pais Vasco.
Ceuta and Melilla [Spanish territories on the coast of North Africa] are also hot places. Salafia Jihadia leads two mosques in Ceuta and its attempting to overthrow the most moderate imams who depend on the Ministry for Islamic affairs of Morocco. The goal is always the same: to substitute the spiritual leaders from members of the Salafia Jihadia movement and to boycott all Muslims disapproving of this extreme form of Islam.
The threat against Spain is still there
The police insist that the threat against Europe, and therefore also against Spain is still there. Last May a group linked to Al-Qaeda issued a statement in Spanish referring again to Ceuta and Melilla. They warned about plans for terrorist attacks in markets and crowded places in both cities.
Global jihadism continues to spread, and experts point out that Al-Qaeda is actually “an ideology, and not a movement”. According to the police, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) continues to be the main menace for Spain. There are police reports from January that the center of gravity of international jihadism is moving to Central Asia and Africa. “There’s a growing coordination between the various African terrorist groups in order to establish a global strategy against Europe”, the police report underlines. These terrorist units are: AQMI, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and Salafia Jihadia Movement (MSJ)
According to this police report, AQMI could be the responsible for an Islamic threat detected against Western embassies in Morocco, among them also the Spanish. “The operative activity of AQMI has increased in Algeria, intensifying its activity with several suicide attacks, and its presence has also increased in Libya.” Moreover, agents deployed overseas confirm that AQMI “is reorganizing itself and establishing contacts with Moroccan terrorist elements.”
The expert in the fight against the so-called “global terrorism” point out that AQMI has also increased its capacity to obtain weapons and explosives from the conflict in Libya. From the point of view of counterterrorism, the agents in charge underline that “control over Libyan weaponry coming out of the country and falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda is turning into a security challenge”