Islamic State terrorists released a video this week celebrating the van attack in Barcelona, Spain, and threatening to conquer all of “al-Andalus,” the Arabic name for what Islamic State terrorists see as Muslim Spain.
The video features two Spanish speakers, one masked and one unmasked. Fox News identifies the former as “Abu Salman Al Andalus.” The latter identifies himself as Abu Lais Al Qurdubi or Abu Lais “of Córdoba,” a Spaniard whom authorities believe moved to Syria to join the Islamic State with his family.
“If you can’t make the hijra [journey] to the Islamic State, carry out jihad where you are; jihad doesn’t have borders,” he says in the video.
“Make jihad where you are and Allah will be pleased with you,” al Qurdubi continues. “Don’t forget the Muslim blood spilled during the Inquisition. … Al-Andalus will return to what it once was: the land of the caliphate.”
The masked man, also speaking in Spanish, lauds the “brothers in Barcelona” – the terrorists responsible for the deaths of 15 and injury for over 100 people in the city – and warns the “infidels”: “Our war against you will continue until the end of the world”:
Spanish authorities appear better informed regarding al Qurdubi’s identity than his partner in the video. The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia identifies the man as Muhammad Yasin Ahram Pérez, a 22-year-old son of a Spanish woman and Moroccan father. His mother, the report alleges, left for the Islamic State “caliphate” in 2014, bringing her six children with her. His father, Abdelah Ahram, is currently serving a prison sentence in Morocco for his ties to radical Islam.
The newspaper says law enforcement believes al Qurdubi is currently stationed in Syria.
Due to the significant Muslim population in Spain – particularly enclaves such as Ceuta and Melilla on the African continent – the Islamic State has seen some success recruiting there. In 2014, ISIS released a propaganda video warning Spain of a Muslim conquest coming to the Iberian peninsula, with a jihadist warning in Spanish, “Spain is the land of our forefathers, and, Allah willing, we are going to liberate it, with the might of Allah.” By the end of 2014, the Spanish government had identified 40 Spanish nationals who had left to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq; one in every five was a woman.
The next year, Spanish authorities revealed numerous arrests of individuals seeking to flee or help others flee to the Middle East to help the Islamic State. Among the more dramatic instances was the arrest of a woman who had planned to send her 16-year-old twin sons to Syria to commit acts of terrorism for the country. Another case proved that ISIS’s Spanish-language propaganda had not only attracted Spaniards: a Paraguayan teenager was arrested in April 2015 in Spain for membership in part of a larger terror cell.
Most recently, the Islamic State took credit for the attack in Barcelona. The perpetrators of this attack, and a similar incident the same night in the beach town Cambrils, were Muslim men in their late teens and early 20s. One of those arrested, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, told law enforcement that the head of the terror cell, an imam named Abdelbaki Es Satty, had planned a larger explosive terrorist attack on Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church but died in a blast in the city of Alcanar after accidentally setting off the explosives. Chemlal testified in a wheelchair as the only jihadist to survive the accidental explosion.