French Terror Expert Claims Spain A ‘Breeding Ground’ for Islamic Extremism

Catalan autonomous police officers, known as Mosso d'Esquadra, detain a cuffed suspect in Ripoll during a search linked to the deadly terror attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils on August 18, 2017, a day after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 14 persons and injuring over …

In the wake of the Barcelona terror attack this week French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard has claimed that Spain has become a breeding ground for Islamic radicalisation.

Mr Brisard, president of the Center d’ Analysis of Terrorism (CAT), said that despite there having been no major attacks in Spain since the 2004 Madrid train bombing, Spain has become a haven for radical Islam. “The intensity of the terrorist threat in Spain is real and the country has become a breeding ground for jihadism,” Brisard said in an interview with French paper L’Express.

“Since the attacks in 2004, 700 Islamists have been arrested, including 200 just since 2012,” he said and claimed that Spanish intelligence had tackled and taken down at least 40 Islamist cells. Spain, Brisard said, was also a symbolic battleground for jihadists because of the former Muslim conquests in the 6th century.

The terror expert mentioned that in 2016 the Islamic State had called for attacks in Spain but that only around 200 Spaniards had gone to fight for the terror group in Syria and Iraq, far below the number in France which topped 700.

The main areas for radicalisation in Spain, according to Brisard, are Catalonia where the Barcelona attack occurred, and the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla which have seen large flows of migrants in recent years. Earlier this month a thousand migrants stormed Ceuta carrying sticks and improvised spears.

“Among the 200 Islamists arrested over the last five years, one-third come from Catalonia, which has also been the scene of several anti-terrorist operations,” Brisard said.

The Spanish intelligence services have been tackling Islamist terror plots since the early 2000’s, Brisard said. “The country’s security services are very effective because they have known the existence of the terrorist threat for many years,” he noted.

The Barcelona attack, responsibility for which was claimed by the Islamic State, led to the deaths of 14 people and over 100 injured. Police said that the Islamist’s original plan could have been even deadlier as they planned to set off a butane bomb they wanted to put in a van.

Hours after the attack a second attack occurred in the nearby town of Cambrils in which one woman died after an Audi A3 ploughed through a small crowd of pedestrians. Police were able to neutralise five of the terrorists with one officer killing four radical Islamic terrorists on his own.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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