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Former Gitmo Detainee Arrested in Spain – Al-Qaeda's Proliferating Ideology of Death and Destruction

July 23, 2014


July 7. 2014 – San Francisco, CA – - A former Guantanamo Bay ("Gitmo") detainee was arrested in Spain on June 16. Moroccan immigrant Lahsen Ikassrien was the leader of a Madrid based network that recruited jihadists for the so-called "holy war" ("jihad") in Syria. Once in Syria, the jihadists from Spain were to join the highly successful terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – or more recently simply "Islamic State." Back in 2001 Lahsen Ikassrien was captured in Afghanistan where he had joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He was transfered by the Americans to Guantanamo Bay, but released in 2005. He invariably denied that he was part of al-Qaeda, but American interrogators did not believe him. Yet, the decision was taken to release him.

Ikassrien's release in 2005 was a very bad decision indeed. Just like so many other former Gitmo detainees, Ikassrien returned to terrorism once he was back in Spain. Another former Gitmo detainee who returned to terrorism after his release was a Saeed al-Shihri. He even became the number two of Yemen's highly dangerous al-Qaeda network and was killed by a U.S. drone attack in July 2013. Moazzam Begg, another former Gitmo detainee, was arrested in Britain last February. This second-generation Pakistani immigrant is believed to have "attended a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas."

Nine people were arrested in Madrid in June. Seven of them were Moroccan immigrants. They were Lahcen Ikassrien, Mohamed Khaloukh Darouani, Abdeslam el Haddouti, Oriane Chergui, Younes Zayyad, Nabil Benazzou Benhaddou and Mohamed Bouyakhlev. About fifty jihadists from Spain have now joined the jihad in Syria.

Proliferation of dangerous al-Qaeda networks in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

Islamic radicalism and terrorism pose the most serious threat to international peace and security today. Very dangerous al-Qaeda networks are proliferating in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most important terror networks in Asia are the traditional al-Qaeda organization led by Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. These movements or organizations are operating in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan. There are also dangerous terror networks in China, especially in the eastern Xinjiang province with its large Muslim communities. All these movements stepped up their activities in recent years.

With its porous borders and failed states Africa is another hotbed of Islamic radicalization and terrorism. The corrupt Nigerian government is unable to defeat Boko Haram which is now gradually taking over the northern part of this African country. Totalitarian Sharia Law has already been introduced in the north.

Another dangerous African terrorist group is al-Shabaab. They operate in Kenia and Somalia and successfully recruited radicalized Somali immigrants in Europe, North America and Australia. These immigrants joined al-Shabaab as jihadists. Abdel Bari Atwan writes that "Britain is home to the largest Somali community in Europe, with 250,000 officially settled. Community leaders have estimated that up to 100 men and women have returned to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Germany have reported similar proportions of their Somali communities to join al-Shabaab." "These foreign fighters also pose a danger when they return to their Western homes. In August 2009 Melbourne Police uncovered a plot to attack Sidney's largest barracks involving two men of Somali origin with links to al-Shabaab (their two co-conspirators were Lebanese)."

Both Boko Haram and al-Shabaab stage an increasing number of successful terror attacks.

Another African al-Qaeda organization is Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. These terrorists largely operate in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and the Sahel. They are making huge profits from hostage taking, drug smuggling and migrant trafficking. They also train jihadists from Boko Haram.

Ansar al-Sharia operates in Libya. They organized the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi on September 11-12, 2012. Their most important target was U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens. Libyan al-Qaeda fighters began their attack on September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in America. Stevens died on September 12 at about 2 o'clock in the morning. Another example of "blowback."

Largely operating in Yemen is a movement called Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. Until his death in September 2011 Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, played a key role in the groups' expansion. He also edited the online al-Qaeda magazine "Inspire" and trained Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian Christmas Day "Underwear Bomber."

Arid Uka, a radicalized Muslim immigrant from Kosovo, killed two American soldiers at Frankfurt Airport on March 2, 2011. Uka lived in Frankfurt at the time. Al-Awlaki's Magazine "Inspire" commented subsequently: "It was said he was inspired by the internet works of the mujahidin."

The official al-Qaeda branch in Syria and Lebanon is a movement called Jabhat al-Nusra which was created in January 2012. It is partly funded by wealthy Arabs in the Gulf States (notably living in Qatar) and Saudi Arabia. Al-Nusra's main rival is a movement called The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) – also referred to as The Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL). Recently, they declared a "caliphate" or Islamic State on huge parts of Iraqi and Syrian territory and now call themselves just "Islamic State." Indeed, a very dangerous terrorist safehaven in the Middle East! Just like the one al-Qaeda had in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban created their own "Islamic Emirate" in Afghanistan in 1996. The new Afghan rulers were sadists who indulged in stoning defenseless women.

The arrogant ISIS/ISIL-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now calls himself "the caliph" and addressed a huge crowd of followers at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul in northern Iraq on July 5. (Al-Baghdadi, a new version of Osama bin Laden, was once in U.S. custody, too.) The militant ISIS/ISIL fanatics seek to conquer all countries of the Middle East, including Israel, as well as North Africa and Spain. Not only do they hate and kill Shia Muslims, also do they hate all the Jews and all the Christians.

They are partly funded by rich Arabs in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Qatar is once again playing a nefarious role by providing support to ISIS/ISIL.

The dangerous and ruthless ISIS/ISIL terrorists have a vast recruiting network in Europe. More than 3000 jihadists from Europe joined the so-called "holy war" of Muslim radicals in Syria and Iraq in a period of just one year. Most of them are frustrated second-generation Muslim immigrants. In Holland, for example, over 130 largely Moroccan Muslims joined ISIS/ISIL and other terror groups in Syria and Iraq. About fourteen of them have died already, two Dutch jihadists were involved in suicide bombing attacks, one in Iraq, one in Syria.

The Dutch Security and Intelligence Service (AIVD) and the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) recently issued an alarming report on "Transformation of Jihadism in the Netherlands: Swarm Dynamics and New Strength." The report points to the huge risks of imminent terrorist attacks in Holland by well-trained and well motivated radical Muslims who return the Netherlands. "Many Dutch individuals fighting in Syria are involved in acts of extreme violence. That is why the AIVD considers those fighters to pose a serious security threat to Dutch society when they return to the Netherlands. Formed by war traumas, or driven by ideological motives, maybe tasked by al-Qaeda related or inspired groups, they may initiate or execute violent actions in or against the Netherlands. Those actions may be directed toward Dutch society as a whole, or against specific groups, such as Jews, Shi'i (Shia) Muslims, or moderate Muslims who denounce their jihadist ideology." Some 30 Dutch jihadists returned to the Netherlands to date. The AIVD claims there are "thousands of jihadist sympathizers" in my country alone.

It is even worse in France, Britain, Belgium and Germany. More than 300 British jihadists in Syria have now returned to Britain. The British government stripped 20 dual nationals of their British citizenship in 2013.

The fatal attraction to evil: "A pathological perversion"

The "human rights" record of ISIS/ISIL is appalling. They specialize in Nazi- style mass executions, beheadings and crucifixions of people they don't like. They are even proud of the many cruelties they inflict on their poor victims. They indulge in making their own horror movies where their despicable war crimes are glorified and justified as being in accordance with "the will of Allah." "Allah Akhbar!" ("Allah is Great!") – that is what these fanatic savages repeatedly shout after each killing. It is nothing but a magic curse. Their diabolical horror movies can be watched online.

Even the Nazis (unsucessfully) tried hide their numerous crimes, referring to them as a "State Secret" or "Geheime Reichssache." Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the Nazi killing machine called "SS," told a high level SS audience – the very elite of his organization – in October 1943: "Most of you will know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 are there or when there are 1000." "It is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned." "We will never speak about it in public." When he was arrested in May 1945, Himmler even claimed he did not order the many mass killings. It is, of course, impossible to declare the killing of millions of people a state secret.

It was in 1942 that social psychologist Erich Fromm published a book on the tendency of many people and totalitarian minds "to escape from freedom." The title of the British edition of Fromm's book was "Fear of Freedom." Like the Nazis, the Fascists and the communists before, today's anti-Semitic Islamists and all those silly suicide bombers totally reject Western freedom and democracy. Instead, they claim they want to submit to what they call "the will of Allah."

Fromm rightly points out that the tendency to escape from freedom is "a pathological perversion." "The phenomenon of masochism shows us that men can be drawn to the experiencing of suffering or submission. There is no doubt that suffering, submission, or suicide is the antithesis of positive aims of living. Yet these aims can be subjectively experienced as gratifying and attractive. This attraction to what is harmful in life is the phenomenon which more than any other deserves the name of pathological subversion." "This is a particularly important question today (1942!), when Fascism proclaims self-sacrifice as the highest virtue and impresses many people with the idealistic character."

This can be directly applied to radical Muslims, jihadists and suicide bombers today. Their abhorrent ideology of death and destruction is a mortal enemy of Western freedoms, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and humanity in general. They are attracted "to what is harmful in life," to diabolical evil, that is.

Non-European jihadists applying for asylum in Europe

The recent AIVD report does not rule out that non-European jihadists will seek to enter Europe as so-called "immigrants" or "asylum-seekers." Countries such as Italy and Greece simply cannot cope with the massive influx of African and Muslim immigrants most of whom want to travel to Germany, Holland, Britain and Scandinavia. (Already well over 60,000 by now!). No longer is the liberal Italian government willing to abide by the Dublin Regulation which stipulates that asylum-seekers and refugees must apply for asylum in the country they arrive first. Their finger prints must also be stored there. The overwhelmed Greek and Italian authorities lamely argue that all these refugees should be allowed to travel to other European counties. The Italian coastguard even assists and encourages the criminal migrant traffickers by picking up tens of thousands of refugees whose boats are about to sink. This so-called "Mare Nostrum" ("our sea") policy has only resulted in a rapid increase of the number of those who want to risk their lives in small and unseaworthy boats and vessels. Instead of bringing all these people to Italy, a Schengen country by the way, the Italian coastguard as well as the Italian navy should bring them back to Libya – regardless of the objections raised by the Libyan government and the migrant trafficking mafias.

Moreover, Italy and Greece should no longer be part of the borderless Schengen Area.

Martin Sommer, a liberal columnist in Amsterdam, points out that it is essential to pose questions such as how to stop unwanted aliens and how to send them back. And then he asks: "Why are migrant traffickers the most enthousiastic supporters of Dutch and European asylum policies?"

Virtually all those refugees have been well instructed by African and Arab migrant traffickers which routes to follow and what kind of credible stories they must tell immigation authorities once they enter Europe. Migrant trafficking is also an important source of income for both regional terrorist networks and the Italian mafia.

Muslim radicalism began to manifest itself in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s after several million asylum-seekers and immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan were granted asylum or allowed as "guestworkers" by liberal governments – notably in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Britain. (There are nearly seven million Muslims in France by now.) Liberal immigration policies produced too many restive Muslim communities in Europe's big cities. Even if the first generation of Muslim "guestworkers" in Europe were relatively moderate in their views – apart from widespread honor crimes and female genital mutilation and the like – the second generation are now increasingly espousing very radical, even jihadist, views, too many of them are doing so, at least.

Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. Website:


El País (Madrid), June 17, 2014, p. 16 ("Desarticulada una red que captaba desde Madrid yihadistas para Siria").

Washington Post, February 25, 2014 ("Former Guantanamo detainee arrested in U.K.").

Abdel Bari Atwan, After Bin Laden. Al-Qai'da, The Next Generation (London: Saqi Books, 2012), p. 115.

Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, Verfassungsschutzvericht 2013 (Cologne/Berlin: BfV, 2014), p. 215. Terrorist attack at Frankfurt Airport in March 2011. See also: New York Times, March 8, 2011 ("Franfkurt attack mystifies suspect's family").

Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, Transformatie van het jihadisme in Nederland. Zwermdynamiek en nieuwe slagkracht (The Hague: AIVD, 2014), p. 53-55. For an English summary of this AIVD publication, see: Transformation of jihadism in the Netherlands ( ).

NOS Journaal/Nieuwsuur (Netherlands), June 30, 2104.

Time (Europe), July 7-July 14, 2014, p. 22 ("Blowback). British jihadists in Syria.

Himmler's October 4, 1943 Posen Speech – "Extermination",

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960, first British edition in 1942), p. 230, 231.

Martin Sommer, Zonder uitzetting geen asiel, De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), June 21, 2014, p. 29. "Hoe houden we de ongewenste vreemdelingen tegen, daarover zou het moeten gaan. En hoe sturen we ze terug? Het mag ook gaan over de vraag waarom mensensmokkelaars de meest enthousiaste aanhangers zijn van het huidige asielbeleid, in Nederland en in Europa."

Soeren Kern, The Islamization of France in 2013, The Gatestone Institute, January 6, 2014; The Washington Post, June 20, 2014 ("A new anti-Semitism rising in France").

© Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at