Jihadists want Al-Andalus back, says Spanish terrorism analyst

'But Italy and Spain not highest risk', interview with Reinares

05 September, 18:08

    Ten years ago, Islamic terrorists attacked the Madrid train station of Atocha. 191 people were killed and over 1,800 injured. Ten years ago, Islamic terrorists attacked the Madrid train station of Atocha. 191 people were killed and over 1,800 injured.

    (by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID, SEPTEMBER 5 - Al-Andalus is still considered by jihadists as Muslim territory, international terrorism analyst Fernando Reinares told ANSA in an interview.

    Both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) see it as ''under Spanish and Portuguese occupation'', and this leads to a greater risk of terrorism in the area, the senior analyst for the Real Instituto Elcano - the most prestigious center for strategic studies of Spain - told ANSA. Author of the book 'Matadlos! Quien estuvo detras dell'11-M y porqué se asentó en Espana' ('Kill them! Who was behind 3/11 and Why Spain was Targeted'), published by Galaxia Gutenberg in 2014, Reinares said that the Iberian peninsula is a prime target for the two transnational jihadist networks. The Al-Andalus region was under Arab domination for eight centuries. The analyst noted that ''even in the writings of the Al-Qaeda founders there are direct and indirect references to Spain, which go beyond the usual anti-Western sentiments voiced by the ideologues of global jihad.'' ''One of them, Abdullah Azzam, published a highly influential pamphlet in 1987 on the religious duty of jihad, in which he urged Muslims to use it to retake Al-Andalus, as if it were still a Muslim dominion under occupation. This was the origin of the allusions to Al-Andalus made in 1994 by former Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden, and his successor Al-Zawahiri. The members of the local cell that planned and carried out the March 11 attacks in Madrid called themselves the 'Brigade in Al-Andalus', or the 'Al-Andalus Brigade'.'' Q: In March, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said that Spain was one of the strategic objectives of the global holy war, but there haven't been any attacks since March 11, 2004.

    Why is this? A: The bombs on the regional trains in Atocha killed 191 and injured over 1,800. It was the most lethal attack in a Western country since 9/11 and shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that our nation is a target of global terrorism. It is true that the jihadist narrative refers to Spain, due to the ancient Al-Andalus, in a different way that other Western countries. But it is also true that Spain has stood out - since the mid-1990s - as one of the European countries where more jihadists have been arrested and more cells dismantled. Q: But can you say that it is now the European country at the most risk from the Islamic State? A: No, Spain and Italy are not at the moment the European nations most affected by jihadist mobilization linked to the conflict in Syria an Iraq. The most exposed, in absolute and relative terms, are France, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, where the Muslim population is made up of mostly the children and grandchildren of immigrants from Muslim-majority nations. However, Spain and Italy are in the Western Mediterranean, where over half of the jihadists that have joined Jabhat Al-Nusra and, especially, the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq are from. This leads to new breeding grounds and, obviously, greater potential risk of terrorism.'' (ANSAmed).

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