We have warned about this for years, but what do we know?
Madrid (dpa) – The emergence of a new al-Qaeda-linked organization in Northern Africa is alarming Spain, which is concerned about Islamists’ calls for the reconquest of the country they regard as a lost part of the Muslim world.
“We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus,” al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said on claiming responsibility for an attack which killed at least 24 people in Algiers on Wednesday.
Al-Andalus is the Moorish name for Spain, parts of which were ruled by Muslims for about eight centuries until the last Moorish bastion, Granada, succumbed to the Christian Reconquest in 1492.
The terrorists will undoubtedly attempt to extend their offensive from Northern Africa to European soil, anti-terrorism judge Baltasar Garzon warned, cautioning that Spain was at a “very high risk” of suffering an Islamist attack.
The reference to al-Andalus was not the first by al-Qaeda, which has also vowed to put an end to the Spanish “occupation” of the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast….
The Algerian-based al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), intends to federate North African Islamist cells under a common umbrella.
Some of the people who could attack Spain may already be in the country, where nearly 80 per cent of prison inmates jailed on charges related to international terrorism have come from Northern Africa over the past five years.
Islamist radicals proselytize at an estimated 10 per cent of Spain’s hundreds of unofficial mosques, which operate in garages, basements and the like.
Spain has become an important base for the recruitment of suicide bombers who are sent to Iraq, according to press reports. Some of the fighters are believed to be trained in new al-Qaeda camps in Sahel countries such as Mali, Niger or Mauritania.