German Muslim leaders react to Barcelona attacks

Following the recent attacks in Barcelona and the Catalan town of Cambrils that left 15 dead, Muslim figures in Germany have expressed their condemnation of the events and their solidarity with the victims.

Germany’s main Islamic associations condemn the attacks

DİTİB, the country’s largest Islamic association, issued a press release rejecting all forms of terrorism. Fellow organisations VIKZ and IGMG made similar moves. ZMD chairman Aiman Mazyek also denounced the attacks and called for unity in the face of the common terrorist threat.(( )) Other Islamic movements, such as the German Ahmadiyya community, followed suit.(( ))

These routine condemnations did little, however, to conceal the enduring divisions among Islamic organisations and leaders that continue to preclude a fresh and concerted approach against violent Islamism.

A superficial show of unity

A tweet under the #Barcelona hashtag by Ercan Karakoyun, chairman of the Foundation Dialogue and Education, central institution of the Gülenist movement in Germany, puts this division into dramatic relief.

Taking aim at the current repression of his movement in Turkey, Karakoyun pugnaciously asserted that “as long as many a state can designate an educational movement a terrorist organisation no common fight against terror is possible!”(( ))

Against this backdrop, calls to withstand the attackers’ attempt to play off Muslims against non-Muslims ring somewhat hollow: the Muslim figures making these statements have so far failed even to mend the rifts among their own associations. How they could meaningfully contribute to healing the divisions within European societies is therefore anyone’s guess.

Grassroots activism vs. stagnation at the top

To be sure, there are many Muslim grassroots movements in Germany that seek to stand in the way of violent ideologies: they range from Jewish-Muslim educational projects and neighbourhood initiatives to important de-radicalisation schemes aiming to offer an exit perspective from the Salafi scene. Overall, German Muslims’ civil society activism is high.

Yet at the level of the country’s Islamic associations, the picture is one of stasis. Unfortunately for German Muslims, those most likely to be heard as their representatives in the aftermath of any attack have little by way of a constructive response to offer.

Woman planning to join Islamic State arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport

A 22-year-old woman was arrested at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas Airport on Monday night, on suspicion that she was planning to fly to Turkey to join the militant group Islamic State (ISIS), Interior Ministry sources have told EL PAÍS.

The woman is originally from a village in Huelva, in southern Spain, and had converted to Islam and become radicalized in a short period of time via internet messages.

The Civil Guard, which was in charge of the operation, became aware of the suspect thanks to its constant monitoring of jihadist forums on the internet, the sources added.

The Civil Guard became aware of the suspect thanks to its constant monitoring of jihadist forums on the internet

The young woman was arrested when she was about to take a flight to Turkey, which is a habitual entry point to Iraq and Syria for those wishing to join ISIS. Her residence will now be searched for evidence.

Spanish court sentences 11 members of jihad recruiting cell that sent militants to Syria

Spain’s National Court has convicted and sentenced 11 members of a recruitment network that sent militants to carry out attacks for al-Qaida-linked groups fighting in Syria.

A court statement Friday said the group, members of the Jabhat al-Nusra organization, recruited the militants in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta and in neighboring Morocco.

The court said that between 2012 and 2013 the group sent some 28 combatants to Syria. At least eight died in attacks that claimed hundreds of victims.

All 11 are Spaniards of Moroccan background from Ceuta, where they were arrested in 2013.

The cell’s leaders, Karim Abdesalam Mohamed and Ismail Abdelaftif were sentenced to 12 years while the rest each received 10-year sentences.

Suspected Amsterdam-Paris train attacker spent seven years in Spain

A man armed with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, a handgun and a knife opened fire on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday before being overpowered by two passengers, both US soldiers. One of the soldiers, and another passenger, were both injured before the assailant was arrested. The attacker is believed to be Ayoub El Kahzzani – the name that French anti-terrorism authorities passed to their Spanish and other European counterparts on Friday night in order to carry out identity checks.

Spanish authorities described the suspect as “very radical and potentially dangerous”

Spain has information on this 26-year-old Moroccan national because he was legally resident in the country for seven years. Spanish anti-terrorism sources have told EL PAÍS that the suspect lived in Spain between 2007 and 2014, first in Madrid, then in the southern port city of Algeciras. He moved to France in March last year and from there traveled to Syria, allegedly to try to enlist with Islamic State. When he left Spain, Spanish authorities alerted the French intelligence services about his presence in France, describing him as “very radical and potentially dangerous.” He was also known to Belgian authorities.

El Kahzzani was legally resident in Spain, possessing a foreigner’s identification number, and his record shows that he was also arrested three times for drug trafficking, twice in Madrid and once in the Spanish north African exclave of Ceuta, the sources said.

Growth of born-again Muslims in Spain

Spain, traditionally a Catholic country, is undergoing a profound transformation. Some 50,000 Spaniards from Christian families have become Muslims, 20.000 of them in the last five years, according to the census of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain. Between these born again Muslims, there is a group that concerns the Security Forces of the State: young people from radical Islamic environments who are willing to engage violent acts against Spain.

So far this year, security forces have detained more than 40 people connected with Islamist terrorism. A third of them have been arrested in Catalonia.

In fact, of the 1,264 mosques in Spain, 216 are in Catalonia. Moreover, in the last 10 years, the Islamic immigration in the community has increased exponentially, from 30,000 to almost 700,000 Muslim citizens, exceeding 20% of the population in some municipalities.Spanish Muslims

The Union of Islamic Communities in Spain condemns the terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia


The Union of Islamic Communities in Spain vigorously condemned today the attacks in France, Kuweit and Tunisia, and has shown its solidarity with the two nations and with the pain of the innocent victims.
“We are dismayed, feeling their pain as our own” noted the Islamic Commission of Spain in a statement.

“Muslims must also be alert to this criminal violence and we must also make our efforts to detect any outbreak of hatred, rancor or attempt to capture harmful, that spoil the souls of some, because it is also our duty to protect our neighbors and fellow citizens, “said its President, Riay Tatary.

7 Jihadists allegedly planning a terrorist attack against a Jewish bookstore in Barcelona

Seven persons suspected of being jihadists were arrested in a case involving the possible attack on a Jewish bookstore in Barcelona.

Authorities seized a grenade, knives, shotguns, ammunition and chemicals that could be used for bomb-making during searches that followed 11 arrests Wednesday in the northeastern Catalonia region.

The suspects, mostly from the city of Terrassa about a 30-minute drive from Barcelona, had formed a group they called “Islamic Brotherhood for Jihad Predication” that was linked ideologically to the Islamic State group.

Catalonia regional police had been monitoring members of the alleged group for more than a year.

Teenager twins and their parents arrested for Jihadist connections

The judge of the Audiencia Nacional José Luis Castro has ordered the placement of the twin brothers (16 years old) in a juvenile detention facility for a period of six months after they have been arrested on Tuesday in Badalona (Barcelona). They are accused of belonging to a terrorist ‘jihadist’ organization, legal sources reported. Their mother and father were also sent to prison for “facilitating the migration process” of the minors to Syria in order to participate in the combat as ‘mujahideen’.The four arrested individuals are Moroccan citizens and they were being investigated for their process of “radicalization”. According to these sources, the children were scheduled to leave on Tuesday from Badalona to Syria, and had already contacted jihadist network members to organize their trip through Turkey. The children had left school in Badalona for Koranic education at a madrassa in Tetouan (Morocco), and, according to the Ministry Interior, they “were engaged in the process of radicalization”.

Spain breaks up online network recruiting young women for ISIS

Spain said Tuesday it had broken up an online network accused of recruiting young
women to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants fighting in Iraq and Syria and arrested four suspects.

The arrests came as European nations scramble to halt a surge in young people wanting to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight with the militants.

Two of the suspects were arrested in Melilla, the Spanish enclave neighboring Morocco, in the latest operation by Spain’s authorities targeting such recruiting networks. The others were detained in Girona and Barcelona in Spain’s northeast.

The two arrested in Melilla were said to be behind the creation and operation of several Internet platforms spreading propaganda, particularly for ISIS, the interior ministry said in a statement. “In line with the strategy of the Daesh [ISIS] terrorist group, they focused on the recruitment of women who, after a process of indoctrination, would end up joining the terrorist group in conflict zones,” it said, referring to the Arabic name for ISIS.

Private home visits were also organized for recruiting purposes and a number of young people had begun preparations to travel to war zones, the ministry said.

One of those arrested ran a “virtual community” with ISIS propaganda and more than 1,000 subscribers, it said.

Zaki Zayed President of the Islamic community in Valladolid condemns “all violence” perpetrated in the name of religion

Zaki Zayed, the imam of the mosque, President of the Islamic communities in Valladolid expressed his opinion on the acts of violence perpetrated by the ISIS fighters:”Whoever does these atrocities does not belong to any religion. He is not Muslim, but neither is this person Christian or Jew.” Therefore the Imam regrets even the allusion to the name ‘Islamic State’: “Those who make others suffer are not part of Islam.”