Spanish public prosecutors had said 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 from Spanish rule to begin the Islamic re-conquest of Spain.
Spanish prosecutors said the jihadist cell operated out of the Darkawia mosque in the El Príncipe Alfonso neighborhood of Ceuta. The ringleader of the group, a Moroccan imam named Mohammed Abdessalam, was alleged by prosecutors to have “preached the most extreme version of Islam.”
Prosecutors said the jihadists had been plotting a series of bombings in Ceuta — in the city’s main port, in churches and in other infrastructure.
In its ruling, however, the court said that although prosecutors proved that the Islamists were “jihadists who worshiped martyrdom,” there was a lack of incontrovertible proof that the men were “planning to attack Spanish interests.” The ruling added: “Terrorism is more than the expression of radical ideas. Freedom of expression and dissemination of ideas, thoughts or doctrines is a feature of the democratic system which we must protect even for those who disagree and advocate changing it.”
The ruling came on the heels of the CNI’s leaked secret report, which warned of “alarming symptoms” of the presence in Spain of members and cells of the Islamist group Takfir wal-Hijra, which subscribes to the “most radical and violent version of Salafi-Jihadism.”
Takfir wal-Hijra doctrine promotes “jihad without rules” by condoning non-Muslim practices, such as drinking alcohol and drug trafficking, as a cover for extremist activities. According to CNI, the group aspires to subjugate the entire planet under a “global caliphate ruled exclusively by Islamic Sharia law.” Members of the group are now firmly established in Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga and Valencia, among other Spanish cities.
The CNI document further states that police have detected Takfir activities in four mosques in Barcelona and two mosques in Valencia. The mosques are “led by radical imams from Algeria and Morocco,” and are centers for “proselytization and recruitment of new members using religious instruction as a decoy.”
The report of the Spanish Ministry of Defense examines some of the main Islamist groups operating in Spain, such as Takfir wal-Hijra, Tablighi Jamaat, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Justice and Charity from Morocco, concludes that radical Islam is on the rise in Spain. It also shows that the common thread linking all the groups together is their mutual desire to establish an Islamic Caliphate.
The document also states: “The wide range of freedoms in countries like Spain, such as the freedom of expression and association, and the extensive judicial protections, paradoxically represent an advantage for Islamist movements to disseminate messages opposed to democracy or messages that promote radicalization…Jihadist groups can disseminate a range of principles contrary to our democratic and constitutional values, or contrary to the integration into the society of residence, in addition to implementing feelings of marginalization or victimization, that could serve as a breeding ground for jihadist recruitment.”
A recent survey conducted by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior provides additional insights into the beliefs of Muslims in Spain. Entitled “Values, Attitudes and Opinions of Muslim Immigrants,” the report shows that more than half the Muslims in Spain consider themselves to be “very religious.” Only 12% say they are non-practicing.
More than 80% are opposed to banning the burka and only 39% say they are opposed to establishment of Islamic Sharia law courts in Spain. More than 60% of those surveyed say they obey instructions from the imams at their local mosques.
In March, Spanish authorities arrested a radical Islamic preacher for calling on Muslims to use physical and psychological violence to “discipline” errant wives who refuse to submit to Islamic Sharia law or obey their husbands.
Spanish public prosecutors say Abdeslam Laaroussi, a charismatic imam from Morocco who preaches at a large mosque in Terrassa, an industrial city 30 kilometers north of Barcelona, is guilty of “incitement to violence against women” for “providing concrete examples of the manner in which wives should be beaten, how to isolate them inside the family home and how to deny them sexual relations,” the last of which would not appear to require extensive instruction.
About the Author: The writer is the Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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