Dozen Islamic militants 'infiltrated army base'
27 February 2007, MADRID — A dozen radical Islamists have infiltrated the Spanish army garrison in Madrid's North African enclave of Ceuta, a magazine claimed on Tuesday.
27 February 2007
MADRID — A dozen radical Islamists have infiltrated the Spanish army garrison in Madrid's North African enclave of Ceuta, a magazine claimed on Tuesday.
Interviu magazine, citing what it describes as reports from a now-defunct spy unit, said Spanish military intelligence discovered the infiltration.
The unit had been conducting a special review for several years of the army units in Ceuta and Melilla, cities that have large Muslim populations.
The report came as 29 men - including 15 Moroccans - are on trial in Madrid for the 11 March, 2004 train bombings that left 191 dead and more than 1,800 others wounded in the Spanish capital.
The massacre was blamed on Muslim radicals angry with Spain's then-conservative government for backing the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Interviu denounced the "fundamentalist infiltration" found by military intelligence in one Ceuta-based unit that has a "long tradition of native troops and today has a large number of soldiers of the Muslim faith".
In the case of Ceuta, nearly 40 percent of the troops stationed there are Muslims.
The military intelligence unit responsible for identifying the Islamist soldiers was dismantled recently, thanks largely to an Interviu story that revealed the army spies were keeping tabs on all political, labour and civic entities in Ceuta.
The revelation of the unit's activities led to the sacking of Lt. Col. Jose Maria Albarracin Martin de Oliva, who later tried to commit suicide at army headquarters in Ceuta.
Interviu's investigation found that, in addition to gathering information about civilians, Albarracin's unit was "monitoring the Islamist influence among Muslim troops stationed in Ceuta".
In Ceuta and Melilla, military counterintelligence work "focuses almost exclusively on investigations of Islamism and drug trafficking among troops".
Army intelligence operatives identified 12 Muslim soldiers as "followers of the most radical Islam preached in northern Morocco".
"We found clear indications of their closeness to the bearded ones," a military source said, using the nickname for Muslim fundamentalists in the city.
The radical Muslim soldiers served in various army detachments.
"Concern spread among military commanders in the city: The fundamentalists were everywhere," the military source said.
The investigations, which started before the March 2004 attack in Madrid, even uncovered links to Iraqi commanders who fled after the defeat of Saddam Hussein's army in the March 2003 U.S. invasion.
Officials consulted by Interviu said, however, that the roots of Islamic fundamentalism were deep in the life of this Spanish enclave in Morocco.
"It's all connected: from fundamentalism to arms and drug trafficking, to the sale of cheap clothes, the fish, and let's not even talk about the trafficking of people," one official said.
Jihadists at an advanced level of indoctrination and training "hide their fundamentalist militance: they shave their beards, consume liquor and eat pork; they engage in the most Westernized and far from Islamic behavior," the official said.
One of the recommendations made to young Jihadists is that they enlist in the army so they can "receive free military training".
The pressure on families, moreover, is great because even though the majority of Muslims in Ceuta are Spanish, they have many relatives in Morocco.
Ceuta and Melilla are claimed by Morocco, and one of the "moles" detected by Spanish agents turned out to be an employee of Rabat's spy services rather than a Muslim militant.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news