by Soeren Kern
March 20, 2012 at 5:00 am
The problem is so grave that the United States has proposed setting up an intelligence hub at the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona to counter the growing threat.
Nine Islamists accused of planning terrorist attacks aimed at “liberating” Spain for Islam are standing trial in Madrid.
Spanish public prosecutors say the men — Salafi-Jihadists who belonged to an Islamist cell known as the “Army of the Messiah” (Ansar al-Mahdi) — sought to “free” the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in northern Africa, from Spanish rule and thus begin the Islamic re-conquest of Spain.
Salafism is a branch of radical Islam that seeks forcibly to re-establish an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.
Much of Spain was ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492; Salafists believe that the territories the Muslims lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there. This belief is based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination as part of the Waqf [detained or preserved] — a religious endowment now implicitly owned forever by Allah.
Spanish prosecutors say the jihadist cell operated out of the Darkawia mosque in the El Príncipe Alfonso neighborhood of Ceuta. The ringleader of the group is a Moroccan imam named Mohammed Abdessalam, who prosecutors say “preached the most extreme version of Islam.”
The jihadists are accused of plotting a series of bombings in Ceuta, including churches, the city’s main port and other parts of the city’s infrastructure, in an effort to “duplicate the train bombings that occurred in Madrid on March 11, 2004.” The Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded 1,800, are considered to be one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern European history.
Prosecutors are seeking prison sentences of eight years for each of the suspects, whose trial is taking place at the Spanish High Court (Audiencia Nacional) in Madrid.
The trial comes as a leaked secret report prepared by Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI) in January warns that Salafi Islamists pose the greatest threat to security in Spain.
The document warns of “alarming symptoms” of the presence in Spain of members and cells of an Islamist group, Takfir wal-Hijra, which subscribes to the “most radical and violent version of Salafi-Jihadism.