jihadists

Wednesday’s arrests of 11 suspected jihadist terrorists in the Catalan region of Spain brought the number of terrorist suspects detained in the country to 30 so far this year.
Islamic State jihadistsThis has raised fears that sooner or later Spain will be the victim of a terrorist attack, similar to the one which killed 191 and injured 1,800 in a train bombing here on March 11, 2004.
The perpetrators of the March 2004 attacks had links to Al Qaeda, while the current wave of jihadists profess loyalty to the Islamic State (IS).
Speaking to Xinhua, Carola Garcia Calvo, who is an investigator for the World Terrorism Program at the Elcano Institute, explained the “call the Islamic State has made to young people in the West, through a successful campaign through social networks, has seen recruitment and radicalization networks reactivated.”
Garcia Calvo explained that IS offered young people “a project in a state which is under the control of Sharia law, which is the only law those attracted to jihadist movements recognize.”
She said most recruits tended to be children of immigrants from Muslim countries, who are “not completely assimilated in their new societies.”
At the same time, as they do not feel part of the nation they were born in, they also feel removed from the culture of their parents’ homeland. What IS does, she explained, is offer them the chance to belong to the “community of believers,” and this is “very attractive.”
Wednesday’s arrests came just a week after a family of four were detained on terrorist offenses in Badalona, just outside of Barcelona and Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz commented that a disproportionate number of arrests were from the Catalan region, accusing the Catalan authorities of not being on top of the issue.
However, according to Garcia Calvo, there is another reason for so many detentions in Catalonia: after the North African enclaves of Spanish cities Ceuta and Melilla, which are the other main suppliers of jihadist fighters, Catalonia was the first area to receive large numbers of Muslim immigrants.
“Catalonia is a community which has traditionally received immigrants from the Maghreb and Pakistan, and the first part of Spain to receive them, so it is not a surprise that the region now appears in anti-terrorism operations,” she said.
Garcia Calvo highlighted that despite recent alarms there are still only an estimated 100 Spanish jihadi fighters in conflict areas compared with an estimated 1,000 French, 800 German or 600 British radical fighters.
This is because Spain only began to welcome immigrants from Muslim nations in the 1990’s, whereas the aforementioned nations had been destinations for immigrants since the 1950’s or 60’s and as a result have more disaffected second and third generation populations.
Radical Islam is not a new phenomenon in Spain, with the first arrests taking place in the mid to late 1990’s, well before the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2004 Atocha train station bombings, although those arrests were always linked to international conflict with Muslim interest in some form or another.
Garcia Calvo insisted Spain needs a “multifaceted response,” to the problem.
“As well as the police action, we should not forget other legal co-operation with other governments, especially North Africa…as this is a global movement that does not just affect Spain,” she explained.
She added that a local response involving education, training and the early detection of people who may be tempted by the jihad is essential. Schools and Mosques both have a role to play in sending out a message which is “not against or incompatible with the democracy and tolerance of the Spanish state.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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