Al Qaeda's No2 threatens Spanish interests in Maghreb

5th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 November 2007, MADRID - Al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, issued Saturday a new call for a holy war against North African leaders and their French, Spanish and US allies. The 28-minute message, in which he also announced a new Libyan arm of the militant network, was released on the internet.

5 November 2007

MADRID - Al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, issued Saturday a new call for a holy war against North African leaders and their French, Spanish and US allies. The 28-minute message, in which he also announced a new Libyan arm of the militant network, was released on the internet.

"Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco are slaves to the West," said Al-Zawahiri, urging Al Qaeda followers to attack US, French and Spanish interests in these North African countries.

This is the second such call the Egyptian Al Qaeda leader, considered to be Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, has issued since September, when he incited the group's followers to "cleanse the Muslim Maghreb of the children of France and Spain."

That message was considered particularly worrying by the Spanish secret services because it implicitly called for attacks on Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Despite Saturday's threat, Spanish terrorism experts consider that Spain today is not one of Al Qaeda's priorities and that the risk of an attack is lower than when the train blasts of March 11, 2004 rocked Madrid, killing 191 people.

"The priority for Al Qaeda and its satellites is the Maghreb, mainly Algeria and Morocco," says an agent from a Spanish anti-terrorism squad. "Ceuta and Melilla would become priority targets if the Islamists were to succeed in establishing a radical government in Morocco - then they would certainly fight to annex the two cities to their territory," he adds.

According to terrorism experts, the risk level is lower in Spain today than in 2004, not just because of the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq after the electoral victory of the Socialists that year, but also because the number of officers exclusively dedicated to fighting Islamist terrorism has grown tenfold. In 2004, the number of police and Civil Guard experts in international terrorism was just over 150. Today that number is closer to 1,500.

Despite this, most experts agree that the threat level is still "high." The verdict in the March 11 trial, which came out last week, has aggravated the situation. The ongoing hunger strike being staged by several of those convicted in that trial, moreover, is expected to rouse anti-Spanish sentiment among radical Islamist groups in North Africa, and boost their calls to action in local mosques.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ JESÚS DUVA]

Subject: Spanish news

 

5 November 2007

MADRID - Al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, issued Saturday a new call for a holy war against North African leaders and their French, Spanish and US allies. The 28-minute message, in which he also announced a new Libyan arm of the militant network, was released on the internet.

"Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco are slaves to the West," said Al-Zawahiri, urging Al Qaeda followers to attack US, French and Spanish interests in these North African countries.

This is the second such call the Egyptian Al Qaeda leader, considered to be Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, has issued since September, when he incited the group's followers to "cleanse the Muslim Maghreb of the children of France and Spain."

That message was considered particularly worrying by the Spanish secret services because it implicitly called for attacks on Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Despite Saturday's threat, Spanish terrorism experts consider that Spain today is not one of Al Qaeda's priorities and that the risk of an attack is lower than when the train blasts of March 11, 2004 rocked Madrid, killing 191 people.

"The priority for Al Qaeda and its satellites is the Maghreb, mainly Algeria and Morocco," says an agent from a Spanish anti-terrorism squad. "Ceuta and Melilla would become priority targets if the Islamists were to succeed in establishing a radical government in Morocco - then they would certainly fight to annex the two cities to their territory," he adds.

According to terrorism experts, the risk level is lower in Spain today than in 2004, not just because of the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq after the electoral victory of the Socialists that year, but also because the number of officers exclusively dedicated to fighting Islamist terrorism has grown tenfold. In 2004, the number of police and Civil Guard experts in international terrorism was just over 150. Today that number is closer to 1,500.

Despite this, most experts agree that the threat level is still "high." The verdict in the March 11 trial, which came out last week, has aggravated the situation. The ongoing hunger strike being staged by several of those convicted in that trial, moreover, is expected to rouse anti-Spanish sentiment among radical Islamist groups in North Africa, and boost their calls to action in local mosques.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ JESÚS DUVA]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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