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Here’s the irony. While the EU joining in on the pressuring of Israel to make concessions that damage her security, the Islamic fundamentalists have chosen their next target—SPAIN !! For 700 years Spain was Al-Andalus (the Arabic name given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims, or Moors-remember Othello?).At various times in the period between 711 and 1492.[1] It refers to the Umayyad Caliphate province (711-750), Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750-929) and Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031) and its “taifa” (“successor”) kingdoms.

Now Osama and his buddies want Spain back. But wait…I thought once Israel concedes itself out of exsistence, there will be NO Islamic terror. Isn’t that what the EU says?

If I lived in Europe I would be quite scared, because if the Islamics take Spain could countries with large Islamic populations such as Britain, France, and Germany be next? Count on it!

Jerusalem Issue Brief Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Vol. 7, No. 16 11 October 2007
Al-Qaeda: The Next Goal Is to Liberate Spain from the Infidels
Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi

Al-Qaeda Recalls Islamic Rule in Spain

Historically, large parts of the Iberian Peninsula were under Islamic rule from 711 until 1492, with the final eviction of the Moors from what they called al-Andalus. Despite the passage of over five hundred years, the memory of Islamic rule in Spain has become increasingly part of the discourse in radical Islamic circles.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy of Osama bin Laden in the al-Qaeda leadership, in a new tape publicized on 20 September 2007, referred to the global aspirations of the Islamic Revolution:

O, our Muslim nation in the Maghreb [North Africa], zone of deployment for battle and jihad! The return of Andalus [today’s Spain] to Muslim hands is a duty for the [Islamic] nation in general and for you in particular. You will not be able to achieve this except by purifying the Islamic Maghreb of the French and the Spanish who have once again returned, after your fathers and grandfathers had expelled them unsparingly in the way of Allah.

Earlier, in December 2006, al-Zawahiri made a passing reference to “Spain’s occupation of Ceuta and Melilla,” two small enclaves on the North African coast that are under Spanish sovereignty.

This is not the first time al-Qaeda leaders have referred to the Iberian Peninsula as occupied Muslim territory to which the commandment of jihad applies until it is liberated and Islamic rule is imposed there. On 29 September 1994, Osama bin Laden wrote to Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia: “All in all, we request of Allah…that the [Islamic] nation should regain its honor and prestige, should raise again the unique flag of Allah on all stolen Islamic land, from Palestine to Andalus, as well as Islamic lands that were lost because of the treachery of leaders and the helplessness of the Muslims.”1

This view is deeply embedded in the thinking of those Islamist leaders who served as an ideological wellspring for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, established that the Islamic obligation to wage jihad in order to recover lost Islamic territories applies to al-Andalus.2

Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, who was one of the most powerful Islamist preachers in Saudi Arabia, wrote a letter to President George W. Bush on October 15, 2001 – after the 9/11 attacks – in which he explained: “Imagine Mr. President, we still weep over Andalusia and remember what Ferdinand and Isabella did there to our religion, culture and honor! We dream of regaining it.”3

It should not be surprising that these repeated references in jihadist circles to al-Andalus have had an impact on how new al-Qaeda affiliates have defined their long-term goals. These groups do not work in a vacuum; the Saudi Gazette reported in March 2005 that there are four million descendents of refugees from Muslim Spain currently living in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. In Morocco, the fall of Granada and al-Andalus is commemorated by many of these descendents.4

The theme of al-Andalus appears among jihadi organizations in a variety of ways. In a January 2007 speech, Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the commander of the Algerian Salafist Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC), addressed Algerian Muslims as the grandchildren of Tariq bin Ziyad, who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in 711 with an Islamic army and conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula.5 GSPC cells have been known to have operated across Spain in the last number of years.

More recently, in June 2007, Islamist websites announced the establishment of “Ansar al-Islam in the Muslim Sahara, Land of the Veiled Ones.”6 The organization promised to win back al-Andalus, as well as declaring war on the current North African regimes: “Our raids will not encompass just the Muslim Sahara, but will go beyond it….Al-Andalus is before our eyes, and with Allah’s help we will take back the Land of Islam and what was plundered from our forefathers, no matter how long this takes.”7

One website announcing the formation of the group featured a map showing “The Great Islamic Caliphate” which it sought to advance, stretching from Spain across North Africa and the Middle East to India and Western China.

The Muslim Brotherhood Views Spain as Part of the Islamic Homeland

This view is also held by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose doctrine calls on the Muslims of the world to rise up and unite in the struggle to liberate parts of the “Islamic homeland” that have fallen into the hands of the “infidels,” “enemies of Allah,” and “enemies of humanity.” Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, has written that while Islam was twice evicted from Europe – from al-Andalus and from Greece – it is now in the process of returning.8

The fall of Andalus is mentioned in the speeches of Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Mahdi Akef in one breath with the loss of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.9 Akef believes Islamic goals should be achieved through jihad and armed struggle against any foreign rule that occupies Islamic land. In a letter of 26 August 2004, Akef sets forth this strategy in detail under the heading, “Liberating Parts of the Homeland Is an Obligation under Islamic Law:”

[One must develop] the culture of resistance in dealing with the invasion [of Muslim territory], and this is a culture of the occupied and oppressed peoples, for whom Allah has permitted jihad and resistance as a means of achieving liberation….The culture of resistance to occupation and invasion exists on all levels: intellectual, military and economic. The experience in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan has proved to everyone that resistance is not an imaginary strategy, a false option or impossible. It is a feasible option when the will of the members of the nation is united, they reinforce each other, and coordinate their words, weapons and faith to confront the occupier, whether it comes with weapons or bombards us with its ideas, its values or its invalid morality. 10

It should come as no surprise that two years ago a Hamas children’s magazine called on Palestinian children to restore the city of Seville to Islamic rule as well as the rest of what was once Islamic Spain.11 According to its charter, Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and, therefore, reflects the parent organization’s viewpoints on global issues, like the recovery of al-Andalus.

Israel Is the Front Line in the Defense of Europe from Radical Islam

Israel, therefore, is a small link in the greater confrontation between radical Islam and the West. Accepting the Arabs’ terms for a Middle East settlement or even going so far as “liberating” Palestine from Israeli rule will not be the last stop in the radical Islamic journey being led by the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, which share the vision of spreading Islam all over the world and establishing a global organizational infrastructure under a new caliphate to make this possible.

Indeed, for the West, Israel constitutes a dike against the great wave of radical Islam. The very same principle invoked for waging war against Israel – recovery of what was once Islamic territory – is being applied to Spain, the Balkans, Southern Russia, and India. Gustavo de Aristegui, a conservative Spanish parliamentarian, has disclosed that former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer once said that if Israel were to fall and be defeated, the next in line would definitely be Spain.12

European pressure on Israel to make political concessions that endanger its security will only bring closer the next stage of Islam’s offensive, this time aimed at the heart of Europe. The fate of Spain and other European states will be no different from that of Israel. Neither the Spanish withdrawal from the Coalition’s war against the Iraqi insurgency, nor proposals for a Spanish dialogue with Hamas, have abated in any way the anti-Spanish hostility coming out of radical Islamic movements in recent years. It emanates from a long-term historical grievance.

Al-Qaeda regards the large Muslim communities in Europe as a strategic hinterland for when the time is right. There is no point in pursuing reconciliation and dialogue with a worldwide terror organization that preaches the ideology of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This is an existential struggle over the nature of the world, pitting dark religious fanaticism against democracy and humanism. Israel can serve as a crucial front line in the defense of Europe. Moreover, the more Israel is accepted as a legitimate part of the Middle East, with full peace treaties with its neighbors, this will serve as a powerful indicator that the forces behind the current radical Islamic wave against the West, as a whole, are receding and going into a period of decline.



2 Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Radical Islam (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 222.

3 Patrick Sookhdeo, Understanding Islamic Terrorism (Wiltshire: Isaac Publishing, 2004), p. 159.

4 “Saudi Daily: Andalusian Muslims Recall Mass Exodus,” MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 873, March 4, 2005,

5 “Speech by Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, Commander of the Algerian Salafist Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC),” Global Terroralert, January 3, 2007,

6 “The ‘Ansar Al-Islam in the Muslim Sahara’ Group Declares Jihad Against the North African Regimes and Promises to Take Back Muslim Spain,” MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 1653, Islamic Websites Monitor No. 118, July 3, 2007,

7 Ibid.





12 Aaron Hanscom, “A Fatwa in Spain,”, September 4, 2006,{715C1193-821F-47F0-8332-1FA10C86CEB6}

* * *

Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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