Judge warns Spain is next target for terror blasts
13 April 2007, MADRID - Islamist terrorist attacks in North Africa have revived concerns in Spain about threats made by Al Qaeda to recover what Arabs know as "Al Andalus".
13 April 2007
MADRID - Islamist terrorist attacks in North Africa have revived concerns in Spain about threats made by Al Qaeda to recover what Arabs know as "Al Andalus".
National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon warned in an interview published on Thursday by the daily La Vanguardia that there exists a "high risk" Europe will suffer a new attack by fundamentalist Muslim terrorists.
Specifically, Garzon mentioned Spain's North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla as possible targets.
"The beaches of Ceuta and Melilla, first, and the (Iberian) Peninsula and continental Europe ... are preferred targets of the new terrorist strategy of Al Qaeda that is being developed in North Africa," the magistrate told the daily.
Spanish defense minister Jose Antonio Alonso emphasized the need to be "very attentive and prepared" and not to downplay "any threat" after terrorist attacks in Algiers and Casablanca.
On Wednesday, two bomb attacks in Algiers killed 33 people.
One day earlier, another series of suicide attacks carried out in the Moroccan city of Casablanca killed a police inspector and four terrorists.
The Algiers attacks were claimed by the Al Qaeda Organization in the Countries of the Islamic Maghreb, which - in a statement released on the Internet - swore not to rest until it had liberated "the land of Islam from Jerusalem to Al Andalus".
The term Al Andalus refers to the entire Iberian Peninsula and dates from the 8th century, when the Moors conquered most of the territory, ushering in centuries of Muslim rule.
Al Qaeda's No. 2 figure, Ayman Al Zawahiri, in December compared Ceuta and Melilla with Russian-occupied Chechnya.
Referring to the Al Qaeda message about the Algiers attacks, Garzon said it "can and must be considered the relaunching of its terrorist campaigns".
The magistrate said that Al Qaeda has training camps in southern Algeria, adding that North Africa is, "for now, the battlefield that these new terrorists have chosen".
The terrorists, he said, "hold Europe jointly responsible (with the United States) for the disaster in Iraq and detest the presence of (NATO) troops in Afghanistan," where Spain has deployed almost 700 soldiers.
The deadly March 2004 attack in Madrid is thought to have been motivated by a desire to punish Spain for its initial support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Though the Socialist government that took office the month after the bombings quickly withdrew the Spanish troops from Iraq, Madrid remains committed to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news