jeudi 5 juin 2014

Foreign Fighters, Rebel Side, in Syria. 11/Spaniards

In December 2013, Spanish experts believed that 17 people had traveled to fight in Syria within jihadists groups1. Security agencies of Morocco have also identified three additional Spanish residents who went to jihad in Syria2. 11 are Spanish citizens and 9 others Moroccan immigrants living in Spain. Most come from Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory , which has 85,000 inhabitants, of which 37 % are Muslim. Spaniards from Ceuta who go to Syria since the month of April 2012 belong to the poorest social classes. Moroccans come also from mainland cities such as Girona and Malaga. They are all men, between 16-49, most are between 25 and 30 and married. Most are taxi drivers, unskilled workers, students or underemployment. Except maybe 3 or 4 of them, none had special bond with jihadist networks (probably even 19 on 20). At least two, however, had participated in jihadist events held since 2008 in Ceuta and a municipality in the province of Cadiz. Many had participated in clashes against the police Principe Alfonso, a suburb of Ceuta, and drug trafficking. The exception is Muhannad Almallah Dabas, a naturalized Spanish Syrian who was part of the Spanish cell implanted by al-Qaeda since the mid- 1990's before being disbanded in November 2001. Dabas was arrested and tried for attacks in Madrid in 2004, before being released. He then moved to Syria where he is in charge of logistics for the al-Nosra front, with his young son. He was killed in Homs in October 2013.

 
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Ceuta has experienced jihadists settlements in the past. In 2006, the Spanish authorities lead the Duna operation and arrested 10 Spaniards and 1 Moroccan suspected of terrorist activities, even if 9 are finally released. In 2007, three people were also arrested. Between June and September 2013 finally 10 people have being arrested, during the Cesto operation, and belong to an organized network with international connections, tasked to radicalize recruits and ship them in Syria. Among those arrested, nine Spaniards and a Belgian from Ceuta. It is this process which identifies the 20 jihadists who have already gone into Syria3.
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Spaniards especially join al-Nosra or ISIS, or Harakat al-Sham group of Moroccans. Muhammad al-Kutibi Abu Adam al-Mughrabi, a Spanish citizen of Moroccan origin in Barcelona, fought with al-Nosra until his death in Aleppo, 7 April 20134. Those who lack jihadist experience undergo a process of radicalization in Ceuta or in neighboring towns such as Moroccan Castillejos. It is known that a radical Moroccan imam who come from Tetouan, arrested after the attacks Casblanca in 2003, preached in June 2012 in the mosque Attauba of Principe Alfonso, Ceuta. Several jihadists who left in Syria went to this mosque5. Two or three recruiters are operating across the border in a hierarchical network : it promotes volunteerism by providing money to families. Volunteers are going to Algeciras ferry, then join Malaga or Madrid where they are flying to Istanbul. Once in Turkey, they are routed in the border province of Hatay, where group members responsible for collection make them cross the border. Sometimes flights depart to Istanbul are in Casablanca. In Syria, the volunteers go through training camps. Some are assigned to cells bombers -three cases were identified. The deadliest suicide bomber, who killed more than 100 people, took place in June 2012 in the province of Idlib. The attack was led by Rashid Wahbi, a bus driver or truck, 33, father of a child, originally from Spanish Morocco6. In addition to the Spaniards having joined jihadist groups, at least 25 others have also previously joined the Free Syrian Army and may have since changed allegiance.




Image tirée de la vidéo de Rachid Wahbi, avant son attaque kamikaze sur la base de Nayrab, en juin 2012, qui tue 130 personnes.-Source : http://www.propublica.org/images/uploads/ht_rachid_wahbi_300x200_130724.jpg



On 5 January 2014 the Spanish police arrested Abdel Wahid Mohamed Sadik, one of the 20 jihadist who have left in Syria, considered related to ISIS7. He was arrested in his flight to Malaga who comes from Istanbul. Originating in Ceuta, Mohamed had left in May to Syria via Turkey, and was trained in the camps of ISIS. Spanish police have arrested several members of a cell that recruit in Ceuta, including candidates for kamikaze attacks The leader, Ahmed Yassin Laarbi, was arrested last September after 8 other people in September. A new cell of recruitment for jihad in Syria is dismantled by Spanish police in March 2014. In April , the Spanish government officially figure to 51 the number of nationals who have left to do jihad in Syria8.


Abdelwahid Sadik Mohamed.-Source : http://www.le360.ma/fr/sites/le360.ma.fr/files/styles/asset_image_full/public/assets/images/2014/01/abdelwahid_mohamed_sadik.jpg

 

1Fernando Reinares et Carola García-Calvo, «  Jihadists from Spain in Syria: facts and figures », Elcano Royal Institute, 12 décembre 2013.
2Fernando Reinares et Carola García-Calvo, « The Spanish Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria », CTC Sentinel, janvier 2014, Vol 7. Issue 1, p.12-14.
3Fernando Reinares et Carola García-Calvo, « The Spanish Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria », CTC Sentinel, janvier 2014, Vol 7. Issue 1, p.12-14.
4Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, janvier 2014.
5Fernando Reinares et Carola García-Calvo, « The Spanish Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria », CTC Sentinel, janvier 2014, Vol 7. Issue 1, p.12-14.
6Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, janvier 2014.
8RICHARD BARRETT, FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN SYRIA, The Soufan Group, 2 juin 2014.

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