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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Emerson Vermaat:Spanish police alarmed at growing "Takfiri" jihadist influence in Spain: coping with crime, immigration and terrorism

Emerson Vermaat:Spanish police alarmed at growing "Takfiri" jihadist influence in Spain: coping with crime, immigration and terrorism

June 20, 2007

By Emerson Vermaat

An alarming and confidential Spanish police report on the "Evolution of the Terrorist Islamic Threat in Spain" was recently leaked to the Madrid based newspaper El País. The report was drawn up by the Criminal Investigation Department (CGI) in April 2007 and says that radical Muslim groups are now focussing increasingly on second generation Muslim immigrants in Europe. Once they are recruited, it is very difficult to detect these people. As one terrorism expert from the Spanish police told El País: "They are Spanish, sons of immigrants, they study and wear Western clothes. They don't look like radicals, and often they are not different from others. This is a new phenomenon, it poses a difficult challenge."[1

The Spanish police report analyses the situation in Spain after recent terrorist attacks in Morocco and Algeria and highlights the increasing social polarization and radicalization of part of the Muslim community. "A strongly re-Islamized society and the globalization of the jihad contribute to the existence of a new threat in Spain, posed by local isolated groups consisting of Islamist youngsters defined as second generation Muslims," the report says. There is a new terrorist potential of young fanatics who follow the doctrine of "Takfir." The perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, adhered to the same doctrine, the reports says. Mohammad Atta, the Egyptian leader of the 9/11 suicide commando, was also a Takfiri. The Takfiri movement was created in Egypt in 1969, but it later spread to other Arab countries and to North Africa (especially Algeria). There are Takfiri networks in Europe (Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Britain and possibly the Scandinavian countries). They control a few hundred mosques in these countries. Takfiris believe that so-called "renegade" Muslims must be killed and they hate moderate Muslims. They are extremely paranoid. As Robert S. Robins and Jerrold M. Post observe in their book Political Paranoia: "Behaving as if they were surrounded by enemies, the terrorists in fact create enemies. The terrorist group almost carictures the fight-flight basic assumption. By virtue of their acts vis-à-vis society, the terrorists transform their psychological state into reality."[2

"Takfiris" justify crime for the sake of jihad or holy war. They are Muslim fanatics who conceil their real views and behave like Westerners. An intelligence analyst quoted in El País says: "There are tens of Takfiri youngsters in Spain. They drink alcohol, eat pork, go out with girls and dance in discotheques. For them it is perfectly alright to simulate with a view to going unnoticed. For that reason they are highly dangerous. Nobody suspects they are Islamists."[3 In court, they often pretend to be moderate Muslims. They know how to lie and deny, how to convince others of their innocence. They believe, however, that they themselves are the only true Muslims. All other Muslims are apostates. They know no mercy for their victims.

Reports from the Spanish Intelligence Service CNI say that Takfiri influence is growing. The CNI recently reported that six Takfiri mosques have been opened in the last two years – four in Barcelona and two in Valencia. The imams are Moroccans and Algerians. Takfir has evolved into a cult appealing to uprooted Muslim youths in the West, the above mentioned Spanish CGI report says. In Spain, these youths are trodding new ground.

Those who perpetrated the suicide attacks in London on July 7, 2005 were probably also Takfiris. They were inconspicuous. Indeed, they were fully integrated second generation Muslim immigrants who managed to conceal their real views and aims. Some members of the Hofstad Group, a terrorist network in the Netherlands, are also Takfiri. Take Nouriddin el Fatmi, an illegal Moroccan immigrant who planned terrorist attacks in the Netherlands. El Fatmi was a member of the radical Islamic MSN Group "Muwahideen The True Muslims."[4 He told Nawal Hammoudi, another Moroccan member of the MSN Group, that "Tawheed" (unity of Allah) includes Takfir. All Muslims, except the Takfiris themselves are unblievers, el Fatmi told her. "You are not allowed to marry someone who is not Takfiri. You are not allowed to pray with someone who is not Takfiri. You are not allowed to go to court, for Allah alone is the judge. You are not allowed to vote on election day." El Fatmi further told Hammoudi that violence is justified.[5 This is what Takfiris say when they are among friends or people like Nawal Hammoudi whom they seek to recruit. They often conceil their real views when they appear in the courtroom – for them, of course, it is perfectly allowed to go to court and mislead judges who are infidels anyway. In court, el Fatmi first invoked his right to silence but later – when his case went before the appeals court – he claimed he was a moderate Muslim who does not believe in all Hadiths (traditions relating to the words and deeds of Mohammed). He even critized the Taliban for accepting all Hadiths.[6


The Spanish CGI police report further pointed out that the Al-Qaeda leadership recently implied that there would be new terrorist attacks in Spain. They are upset by the role played by the Spanish troops in Afghanistan and Lebanon and seek revenge. Both Osama bin Laden and his second in command Ayman Al-Zawahiri said that "Al-Andalus" – a huge part of Spain which was once ruled by Muslims – must be "reconquered." (Al-Andalus is not quite the same as the southern province of Andalusia, it is a much wider geographical area extending even into a small part of sourthern France.) Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves in North Morocco, must also be "liberated." Recent statements from the Al-Qaeda leadership on this matter pose a real and explicit threat, the CGI report says. There is also the alarming extension of Al-Qaeda related jihadist activities in the Maghreb countries. "Al-Qaeda is dreaming about a pan-Islamic Caliphate extending from Al-Andalus to Iraq," El País reported on April 15, 2007. Ayman Al-Zawahiri used precisely this phrase in September 2006. And in December 2006, he was referring to "Spain's occupation of Ceuta and Melilla."[7 Ayman Al-Zawahiri sees Ceuta and Melilla as combat zones similar to the ones in Chechnya and Palestine. "Liberating" these Spanish enclaves would be the first step in the direction of the desired caliphate.[8 This is what the leadership of the newly formed "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" have sworn to do. This rapidly growing movement was created in January 2007 by the leaders of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in an obvious attempt to copy Abu Musab Al-Zarkawi's "Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers" (Iraq). Zarkawi and the GSPC leadership were close allies. (Zarkawi, an extremely cruel fanatic, died in June 2006 after a US air strike.) After a bloody attack by three suicide bombers in Algeria on April 11, 2007, Salafist leader Abu Musad Abdel Wadoud expressed the wish that "our clean feet would soon tread on our abducted (raptada) Al-Andalus and raped Al-Quds" (Jerusalem).[9 Thirty people died in this attack. Spanish police sources believe that North African terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda want to to copy what Al-Qaeda is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their attacks are well coordinated and planned and bear the horid hallmarks of Al-Qaeda.

Gradual process of Islamization

Spanish intelligence services are concerned about the process of social re-Islamization in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the entailing risk that part of the Muslim population will be susceptible to jihadist radicalization. Most Muslims in these two cities are Moroccan immigrants who are poorly educated and often unemployed. This provides a breeding ground for radical elements.[10 On May 18, 2007, the influential imam of the central mosque of Melilla called on his followers to vote for Muslims only.[11 One month later, a Muslim woman wearing the hijab (Islamic veil) became a council member of the Melilla city council, an unprecedented event in the history of the city. About one third of the council members now have a Muslim background (three of them belong to the conservative Popular Party, though).[12

There is a high risk that radical Takfiri and Salafist networks operating in North Morocco will seek to penetrate both Spanish enclaves. In January 2007, the North Moroccan police arrested 26 persons suspected of belonging to a terrorist network operating near the border with Ceuta. They organized jihadist trips to Iraq for young suicide bombers.[13

The growing influence of militant Islam is also a major problem in mainland Spain where, according to one estimate, 10 to 15 percent of the Muslim population sympathisizes with Al-Qaeda or its expressed views.[14There are now 550,000 to 570,000 Moroccan and 40,000 Algerian immigrants on Spanish territory. Some 112,000 Moroccans arrived in the context of family reunification.[15 We are talking about large and fertile families in Morocco and Spain. (In most European countries native Europeans tend to have fewer children than immigrants from non-Western countries.)[16Spain is now receiving more immigrants than any other country in the world, apart from the United States. The bulk of Islamist radicals in Spanish prisons consists of Moroccan and Algerian immigrants, most of those who are on trial in the major 11 March Trial in Madrid are also Moroccan immigrants. Recent polls show that "Los Españoles" (the Spanish people) believe there are too many immigrants in their country. Terrorism and immigration are now a matters about which they are highly concerned.[17 They fear a gradual "Islamization" of their society showing more and more North African women wearing hijabs.

Aggressive and violent Maroccan youths

In Holland, too, most members of the terrorist Hofstad Group are first or second generation Moroccan immigrants. In some areas of Amsterdam Jews, gays, elderly natives and shop keepers are frequently intimidated by Moroccan youngsters. There is the recent case of "Snackbar Raphael" in Amsterdam West. The owners, Michel Awad, a fully integrated, hardworking and respectable Egyptian immigrant, and his native Dutch wife Frieda Awad were forced to sell their snackbar after their window had been smashed 38 times by Moroccan youths. The insurance refused to cover the damage anylonger. Frieda Awad recently complained to a Dutch parliamentary committee about one of the Moroccan families: "The eldest son came to the snackbar to steal from us, another son set it on fire and now the youngest is causing problems," she said. In front of a TV camera she imitated the throat cutting gesture another Moroccon youngster had made when he spotted her.[18

The Awads are not the only hardworking people in Amsterdam who have been forced out of their own shops and homes by aggressive Moroccan youngsters. And each time the authorities and the police failed to act.[19 These youngsters have caused numerous problems in the Netherlands for years now and some of those who wanted to intervene have even been accused of "rascism." The real racists, however, are these angry and frustrated young men who think they are invulnerable and above the law. Even the police is often afraid to arrest them. In October 2000, a group of 30 Moroccan youngsters marched through the streets of Amsterdam praising Hamas, Hezbollah and Hitler. "Allahu Akhbar, gas all those fucking Jews (kankerjoden)!"[20 Nobody intervened.

Finally, the Dutch Police Academy asked Fleur Jurgens, a Dutch journalist, to investigate the behavior of these aggressive youngsters. She reported in March 2007 that thirty percent of the younsters in youth detention centers have a Moroccan background, one in ten Moroccan boys have a police record. They hate Dutch natives and misuse traditional Dutch tolerance. They behave like spoiled "little princes." A soft approach is counter productive, Jurgens says.[21 She, too, was quickly accused of "stigmatizing" a group.

One of the most problematic areas in Amsterdam West is "Slotervaart," also known as "little Morocco." It is here that three hardcore members of the Hofstad Group (Mohammed Bouyeri, Samir Azzouz and Ismail Akhnikh) grew up and radicalized. Already back in 1998 there were serious riots in the August Allebé Square which was the center of local Moroccan youth culture in the late 1990s. The current chairman of of the Slotervaart District council, Ahmed Marcouch, complaints that Slotervaart is now a basis for radical youths. These youngsters consider Marcouch, a fellow Moroccan, a traitor (shkaam).[22 He is one of the few who dares to take effective action against those who intimidate others in the streets. He and his co-workers approach the parents telling them to be ashamed of the bahavior of their sons. As a result the situation has slightly improved, finally. Yet, there are still Moroccan youth gangs in Amsterdam West that go scot free.

Seasoned criminals

A number of young Moroccans are involved in prostitution and drugs. Some of these youngsters drive expensive cars and are frequently seen in Amsterdam's red light district. They force young native Dutch women into prostitution by first pretending to be their lovers. Initially, such a Moroccan "loverboy" gives his young female victim a lot of presents and claims he wants to start a love relationship. Once his victim is dependent on him, he asks her to "work" for him as a prostitute. Of course, she has to give most of the money earned from prostitution to her Moroccan "lover" or pimp. These poor victims are often sold to other pimps who are living in Antwerp.[23 The defenseless women are beaten and intimidated by men who often possess guns and knives. It is a new kind of slavery. It happens in other Dutch cities, too.

In March 2007, the Amsterdam police arrested twenty Moroccan and Surinamese men belonging to an extremely violent gang of thirty robbers. They had robbed some eighty companies and firms, in two cases they maltreated security guards. The gang usually rammed the front of a building and then took expensive items. They used expensive stolen cars. During house searches police found firearms, a machinegun, a bulletproof jacket, stolen computers and money. The gang was part of a group of frequent offenders from Amsterdam West. Initially, they were only involved in petty crime, later they evolved into seasoned and hardened criminals. A worried Dutch police investigator told a TV journalist: "Arresting these people is like swimming against the tide." You arrest the members of one gang and soon they are replaced by another, he indicated.[24

African and North African criminals are causing serious problems in Spain and its is often quite difficult to expel these delinquentes extranjeros (foreign criminals). One of them was an 18-year old Moroccan car thief and robber described as "H.B.S." When a police car tried pursue a Seat Cordoba stolen by him, he first accelerated and then quickly slammed on the brakes. The police car was hit and a police officer named César Casqueiro was fatally wounded. Subsequent investigations showed that this young Moroccan criminal had a lot of police antecedents but it was not possible to expel him to Morocco because the Ministry of Labor had given him some kind of permit to stay in Spain. The Spanish police union CEP was furious and asked the authorities to check a person's criminal record first before they issue him a permit to stay.[25

There are links between Moroccan terrorists and criminals. One of the organizers of the March 11 attacks in Spain was a Moroccan named Jamal Ahmidan (El Chino). Apart from being a terrorist, Mr. Jamal also happened to be a wellknown drugsdealer.[26

A recent Dutch military intelligence report points to the risks of massive immigration from sub-Saharan and North African countries: "In Europe, this immigration resulted in the rise of organized crime networks related to the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans. This trend poses a potential threat to the internal security of European states, particularly because terrorist organizations and radical Islamic groups can utilize these networks."[27

Rejecting Western values

Most Muslims in Europe have nothing to with crime and terrorism. There are courageous and well integrated Moroccan Muslims like Ahmed Marcouch and Ahmed Aboutaleb who are strongly opposed to extremism and crime. Radical Muslims regard Aboutaleb and Marcouch as renegades and collaborators. They are "Westernized."

Unfortunately, however, there is a much wider sense of non-attachment to Western values among Europe's Muslim communities. In Amsterdam and other Dutch cities more and more Muslim women are now wearing hijabs or even Saudi niqabs and Afghan burkas.[28It now takes real courage for a young Muslim woman to be different from all the others and go unveiled. This is a highly worrying trend. (When I visited Algeria in 1998 and Iran in 2000 I saw lots of women who strongly disliked the Islamic veil, I saw very few women wearing niqabs.) Many women wearing niqabs and burkas in European countries are on welfare and cannot find jobs because they prefer to look like ghosts. The Dutch city of Diemen no longer wanted to hand out welfare money to a Burka wearing woman who could not find a job because employers rightly refused to employ a woman whose face they could not even see. She went to court, complaining that she was a victim of discrimination and won.[29 The judges dealing with this case were obviously not aware of the fact that such women totally reject Western values and society, yet Western money is welcome. Why are these women not consistent and leave for a country where strict Islamic values, norms and dress codes are enforced? Why do they stay here misusing our social welfare system and hating our culture and values?

An important poll conducted in the summer of 2006 showed that many European Muslims reject Western values, yet they fully accept the material benefits from the very societies they so deeply despise. They stick to their own identity, they are Muslims first and foremost, and often do not primarily feel they are citizens of Spain, France, Britain, Holland or Germany. They show no affection toward the native (autochtonous) populations of these countries. Instead, they are afraid of loosing their identity, and feel increasingly pressurized by the demands of the extremists who want to export the many problems of their home countries to the peaceful and peaceloving European nations and populations. Many European Muslims sympathize with the violent youngsters – who are often organized in criminal gangs – in the Parisian suburbs. In Britain, 75 percent of the Muslims said they liked they these youngsters. In France and Spain the percentage was 63, in Germany 53 percent of the Muslims said they sympathized with them.[30

Crime, massive immigration from non-Western countries and terrorism are the biggest challenges facing the West today. Emerging "parallel societies" threaten our own values and identity. European justice systems, law enforcement, the police and coast guards can no longer cope with these huge problems. Who stops the millions of sub-Saharan and North Africans who want to settle in Europe? And it is often virtually impossible to deport the real criminals among them. If we want to survive as civilized societies where the rule of law, our identity and Western values prevail over those who want to create parallel societies dominated by practices of multiple marriages, discrimination of women and sharia law, we must act and act rapidly – before it is too late.


Emerson Vermaat, M.A. (law) is a Dutch expert on crime and terrorism. He was the first European writer to describe the role of Osama bin Laden in international terrorism and is author of "Het Criminele Web. De Globalisering van de Misdaad (preface: Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, 2000), Misdaad, Migratie en Cultuur (2004), De Dodelijke Planning van Al-Qaida (2005), De Hofstadgroep (2005) en Nederlandse Jihad: Het Proces tegen de Hofstadgroep (2006).

The author's website is: emersonvermaat.com

[1El País, 17 June 2007, p. 32 ("La aparición de ‘yihadistas' de segunda generación desata la alarma policial").

[2 Robert S. Robins and Jerrold M. Post, Political Paranoia. The Psychopolitics of Hatred (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 85.

[3El País, 17 June 2007, p. 32 ("La aparición de ‘yihadistas' de segunda generación desata la alarma policial").

[4 "MSN Groep MuwahhidinDeWareMoslims" (no longer existing, total membership was between 100 and 150). Most members were young Moroccans or Dutch Moroccans. The assistant webmanagers were Mohammed Hamdi (Hofstad Group) and Omar Aoulad Lahcen. One of the members was Mohammed Bouyeri, the leader of the Hofstad Group who killed Theo van Gogh on November 2, 2004. At the Hofstad trial Hamdi tried to play down his role as assistant webmanager, but police records show he did play a prominent role. The core members of the MSN Group liked to watch gruesome films on beheadings and the torturing of defenseless hostages.

[5 Landelijk Parket, Requisitoir van de Officier van Justitie in de Zaak "Arles," 25 January 2006, p. 56, 57.

[6Author's notes, session of the Appeals Court The Hague, Amsterdam-Osdorp, Hofstad Group case, 1 June 2007.

[7 El País, 17 June 2007, p. 32 ("La aparición de ‘yihadistas' de segunda generación desata la alarma policial"; "Los communicados de Al Qaeda").

[8 El País, 15 April 2007, p. 7 ("El Sueño de Al Andalus").

[9 El País, 17 June 2007, p. 34 ("La policía teme que los ‘hombres bomba' sean la gran arma terrorista").

[10El País, 15 April 2007, p. 7 ("El Sueño de Al Andalus").

[11 El Mundo, 25 May 2007, p. 22 ("El imam de Melilla pide que se vote sólo a los musulmanes").

[12 El País, 17 June 2007, p. 28 ("A la Asemblea con el ‘Hiyab'").

[13El Mundo, 6 January 2007 ("Marruecos desmantela una red que enviaba terroristas suicidas a Irak")

[14 El País, 15 April 2007, p. 7 ("El Sueño de Al Andalus").

[15El País, 20 April 2007, p. 28 ("El Plan de Integración de los Inmigrantes arranca con 2.000 millones de Presupuesto"): total number of Moroccans: 543,721; El País, 15 March 2007, p. 32 ("La reagrupación familiar abre la puerta a 245.000 inmigrantes en sólo tres años"). El País, 12 June 2007, p. 31 ("Cinco millones de extranjeros disparan la población española has los 45 millones"): total number of Moroccans in Spain: 576,344; total number North and sub-Saharan African immigrants: 797,592.

[16Tomas Frejka and Jean-Paul Sardon, Gezinsomvang in Europa. Laag gemiddeld kindertal heeft vele gedaanten, in: Demos, May/June 2007 (23/5), p. 3-6 (Dutch Demographic Institute NIDI).

[17 El País, 22 March 2007, p. 39 ("Los españoles valoran a los inmigrantes, pero creen que hay muchos"); El Mundo, 27 February 2007, p. 15 ("Los españoles, preocupados por el terrorismo y la inmigración").

[18 Dagblad De Pers, 14 June 2007, p. 8 ("Marokkaans tuig of toch schoffies?"); NOS Journaal (Dutch television news), 13 June 2007 (20:00 hours).

[19 Dutch columnists such as Sylvain Ephimenco (Trouw), Leon de Winter (Elsevier), Syp Wynia (Elsevier) and Bob Smalhout (De Telegraaf) do not hesitate to rebuke the authorities for their failure to really tackle these problems.

[20 Trouw (Amsterdam based daily newspaper), 16 October 2000 ("Jonge Marokkanen roepen Hitler aan").

[21Fleur Jurgens, Het Marokkanendrama (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2007), p. 9,10, 37, 73 ("Moroccan little princes"), 126-150, 157.

[22 De Volkskrant, 18 september 2006 ("Klein Marokko").

[23 De Telegraaf, 12 March 2007, p. 6 ("Loverboys brengen meisjes naar België"): "Volgens de Antwerpse politie zijn de loverboys doorgaans allochtonen, van Marokkaanse of Surinaamse komaf, terwijl hun slachtoffers autochtone Nederlandse meisjes zijn." For more information, see in particular: Stichting tegen Vrouwenhandel, Amsterdam. A number of notorious Turkish criminal gangs are involved in the same kind practices (see Netwerk TV, 19 June 2007). It usually takes years before the police can arrest such criminals.

[24Netwerk TV, 21 and 23 March 2007; Het Parool (Amsterdam based newspaper), 22 March 2007, p. 3 ("Amsterdamse bende inbrekers opgepakt").

[25 See for example El Mundo, 29 March 2007, p. 25 ("Un marroquí en cuya persecución murio un policía logra los ‘papelles' con 11 antecendentes"). The author has a file on North African, African, Latin American and Rumanian criminals in Spain. Very notorious are Nigerian gangsters who refuse to be deported and often bite and beat police officers who seek to arrest them. Nigerian criminals also violently resisted deportation after they had been arrested in the Netherlands and Germany. I was threatened by a Nigerian criminal operating in Hamburg in 2001. The Hamburg police gave me interesting information on these Nigerian criminal networks. The chairman of the German police union, Konrad Freiberg, told me these gangsters are extremely violent.

[26 Author's file of Jamal Ahmidan. The latest edition of the Oxford Handbook on Criminology (March 2007) provides more information on the linkages between terrorist and criminal groups.

[27 Jaarverslag MIVD 2005 (The Hague: Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, 2006), p. 69.

[28 Metro (Dutch daily newspaper), 17 January 2007, p. 1 ("Meer boeka's in West"); author's own observations in several Dutch cities since 2003.

In the spring of 2007, the new Dutch evangelical TV news show "Knevel en Van den Brink" asked Esmaa Alariachi, a conservative hijab wearing Moroccan woman from Amsterdam, to be a regular guest (a so-called "sidekick"). Miss Alariachi openly admires Hamas and even defended an imam who prayed in the summer of 2004 that Theo van Gogh would soon contract a mortal disease. Why did the evangelical editors of this popular TV program not approach Nahed Selim, a young Muslim woman who is strongly opposed to the Islamic veil which she sees as a symbol of oppression? Uttering such views nowadays is much more courageous than wearing a hijab. Selim's article on "Sleepwalking toward Segregation" in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (28 April 2007, Letter&Geest) is outstanding.

[29 De Telegraaf, 13 June 2007, p. 7 ("Geen bijstand voor vrouw met boeka").

[30 El Mundo, 17 August 2006, p. 22 ("Musulmanes europeos, entre Occidente y su identidad religiosa"). "Un sentimiento de miedo ante el crecimiento del extremismo."

"Parece que los muselmanes europeos se debaten entre dos mundos: acceptan la materialidad y la libertad de expresión de Occidente, pero sintonizan más con los valores y la identidad del mundo islámico, hasta el punto de llegar a mostrar su adhesión a posiciones ideológicas de extremistas islámicos."

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