August 21st, 2017

Catalonia and terrorism; Spain and Moroccan immigration

It might seem that the perps in the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks should have been easier to detect because this was a multi-person cell, a group rather than a lone wolf. Nevertheless, not a single one of the people involved, at least 12 at last count, appears even to have been on the authorities’ radar screen.

This article explores why that might have been:

…Catalonia is a particularly problematic case. In the past, various Catalan nationalist politicians preferred to import North African labor (even though they sometimes referred to them as “the Moors”) rather than those from elsewhere in Spain…

More recently, on such a basic matter as fundamental defensive measures adopted by many European cities after Nice and London—the placing of obstacles along wide pedestrian thoroughfares like Las Ramblas—Catalan authorities allegedly wanted to show they would take an approach different from Madrid. So, no bollards to stop a vehicle from blasting through pedestrians.

Intelligence sharing with the central government may also have been affected, making it more difficult to tie together threads that stretch across regional borders, let alone international ones.

According to the article, Catalonia appears to be a central location for terrorists in Spain. The Catalan authorities seem fiercely independent:

But conflicting reports suggest that in the immediate aftermath of the explosion in Alcanar, where multiple propane gas canisters were discovered, the Catalan police refused the assistance of TEDAX, a unit of the Spanish government with long experience dismantling bombs and investigating explosive evidence dating back through decades of Basque separatist terrorism. If true, valuable hours may have been lost as the killers raced to go into action.

After reading that I became curious about Catalonia’s history. Reading about it, I discovered that Catalonia was only briefly under Muslim rule in the 8th Century, and then became “a defensive barrier for the Frankish empire against further Muslim invasions from Al-Andalus.” I also discovered (see this), that there’s a lengthy history of Moroccan immigration into modern Spain. The cell of terrorists responsible for the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks was composed of Moroccans.

Here’s the history [emphasis mine]:

…[T]hroughout modern history there has always been a constant presence of Muslims in Spain, many of which were former slaves (known as ‘moros cortados’) freed in the early 18th century. Furthermore, Spain’s proximity to North Africa and its small land border with the Kingdom of Morocco (as well as a colonial presence in North Africa lasting between 1912 and 1975) made Muslim presence in Spain possible. Moroccan Muslims played a significant role in Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939), fighting on the National side, including a Lieutenant General Mohamed Meziane, a close friend of General Francisco Franco, who later became Captain General of Ceuta, Galicia and the Canary Islands during his post-war career.

Moroccans did not require a visa to enter Spain until 1985. This however changed with Spain’s growing economic development and its entry into the European Union, after which stricter immigration controls were imposed. Immigration to Spain exploded in the 90s, with Moroccans of both sexes arriving in large numbers and becoming Spain’s first important economic immigrant community.

I also learned that the perpetrators of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, a horrific attack that killed 192 and injured around 2,000, were predominently Moroccans.

Spain and Morocco share a border, but it’s a “wet” border—the narrow Straits of Gibraltar:

The border between Spain and Morocco can be understood as a border of borders. Beyond the territorial line between two nation-states, the Spanish-Moroccan border also marks the limits between, Christianity and Islam, Europe and Africa, the former colonizer and the former colonized, EU territory and non-EU territory, prosperous north and impoverished south. A wide range of geographical, historical, political, social, cultural and economical categories face each other on the Spanish-Moroccan border landscape.

Often, visual representations of the Spanish-Moroccan border are condensed into the metaphorical image of the Pillars of Hercules on the two shores of the Strait of Gibraltar -Gibraltar on the one hand, and Ceuta’s Monte Hacho, on the other.

Here’s a map:

Some history:

Ceuta and Melilla are situated on the North Western Mediterranean coast of the African continent, approximately 300 km apart from each other…Melilla is Spanish since 1497, representing one of the fortresses established along the coast to prevent further invasion of the Spanish peninsula by the “Moors”, who had been expelled five years earlier after a presence of nearly eight centuries. Ceuta had been seized by Portugal in 1415, but was transferred to Spain under the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668 (P. Gold, 2000)…

After Spain joined the Schengen Agreement in 1991 tight border controls started to be implemented…From that moment onwards, Moroccan citizens were not allowed to cross the new Spanish/Schengen -Moroccan border without a visa.

The particular characteristics of the enclaves, which are absolutely dependant on the cross-border interaction with their hinterlands, implied that the Schengen regime was put into practice in a selective mode…In this context the enclaves were given status of ‘frontier zone’, providing special provisions for bilateral trade between the two Spanish cities with the neighbouring Moroccan provinces Tetuán y Nador and allowing Moroccans who regularly entered the enclaves to require only a passport for a maximum 24-hour stay…

With their new status Ceuta and Melilla became key gateways for would-be illegal immigrants to the EU…

There’s much more at the link.

17 Responses to “Catalonia and terrorism; Spain and Moroccan immigration”

  1. groundhog Says:

    Other than outright war could religions, not just Muslims agree not to convert anyone outside specified countries. That means Christians and everyone else who does it.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    “Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen, in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, called Spain a “hub of Islamist terror for all of Europe.” His comments came after two vehicle-ramming attacks that left a total of 14 people dead on a famous Barcelona boulevard and in a seaside town south of the northern Spanish city. The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the van attack in central Barcelona late Thursday that also injured more than 100 people.

    “Jews are not here permanently,” he said. “I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.” [my emphasis]

    The citizens of Malmo Sweden, Europe’s rape capital might disagree that Spain is the hub of Islamic terror in Europe but with the denial extant, certainly the Swedish government would not.


    Careful. Allah has declared even to suggest such a thing is to be guilty of blasphemy.

  3. parker Says:

    The West has the means to make the sharia horde bow down not to mecca but to the West. No muslim majority country can feed its people. Seige works, we have the means but lack the will. So eventually, it comes down to the West surrenders or the West resorts to overwhelming force with a give a damn attitude to collateral damages.

    Islam respects ice in the veins ruthlessness. It respects “the strong horse”. (Hmmm, where did we hear that before?”) So the choice is clear. Surrender and thus be slaughtered if you do not convert or let allah blessed be his name sort ’em out.

  4. J.J. Says:

    I have great fondness for Spain. It has a wonderful climate, glorious beaches, history everywhere, and mostly nice people. However, on my last trip there in 1999 I began to notice the Muslims and how pushy they seemed to be. They seem well entrenched in the coastal areas.

    Standing at Gibraltar on a clear day the coast of Morocco is easily visible. I had not thought of it as a border, but it clearly is – an easy entry point into Europe. Get a phony passport and visa and away you go. Surely the Spanish and EU authorities are aware of this, but are they doing anything about it? Let us hope so.

  5. miklos000rosza Says:

    At least in Tangier, many of the Moroccans speak either Spanish or French, and I remember watching Spanish TV there in some hotel’s bar. I was friends with Paul Bowles, the writer best known for is novel The Sheltering Sky, but in some of his other books (like The Spider’s House) he made clear his belief that Westerners were unlikely to ever understand the Muslim mind. I had the experience, a few times, of a conversation with an English-speaking, seemingly urbane and educated Moroccan, suddenly taking a turn when he would ask “What do you know about the Koran?”

    If you say you don’t believe in God, you’re an atheist, they won’t stop. It’s best to say you’re a Nazarene, and be ready to explain what denomination you are. I was raised as a Lutheran, and to this day remember my favorite hymn, and in a few minutes the attempt at conversion would die down. Though once you’ve seen the light of the believer switch on in someone’s eyes it’s impossible to hold them in the same regard.

    In one of the last letters I received from Bowles, he said that fundamentalists were “ruining the country” — and this was before they were even on our radar in the USA.

  6. neo-neocon Says:


    How interesting!

  7. Dennis Says:

    I have family and friends in the Costa Brava, have been visiting yearly for over 17 years. My big take away is how unaware the government was about what was going down. If it weren’t for the accidental explosion at their bomb fabrication safe house, they might have been able to pull off their big plan: van bombs at the Sagrada Familia, Ramblas and the Port. The huge potential for casualties and perhaps the destruction of Gaudi’s cathedral was what the terrorists were focusing on, and it was either chance or incompetence that averted this result. I haven’t seen this dawn in the minds of the public via the media yet…. yet… but certainly, the authorities must be hyper-aware of their shortcomings.

    The second issue is the background of Catalan separation. Yet another independence vote is scheduled for Oct. 1, and as far as I can tell, the general plan is to go for a passive exit from Spain, betting that the first actor to raise a weapon would be wearing the fascist label and shamed in the eyes of the world. As a friend recently told me: “We will bring flowers to their guns at the border!” The recent terror attack is throwing the spotlight off the independence campaign (with estimates of 50%-50% success, this must be a huge frustration for the Catalan Independistas) and it is emphasizing the need for national instruments of power to manage problems like this. The Catalan police and government have a bit of egg on their face, and are tip-toeing through it all, hoping no one would notice.

    I don’t know much about the Catalan interior, but here at the coast, the Muslim presence is small, but not insignificant. The muslims I know are hard working and cool… but then again, it would be hard to get to know the bitter radicals among them. So, there’s that.

  8. Lino Says:

    One of the sources of potential instability in the current situation in Spain is the influence of the far left in society as a whole and in a more effective way in the local governments. The Catalonia events are only a by-product of the left’s incompetence and disregard of the real danger generated by the presence of large muslim communities and by immigration policies. A similar situation currently occurs in Portugal, where a left-wing government supported by far-left communists has just passed a law favouring immigration to a point that even the deportation of those with criminal charges becomes unfeasible. The near future may be a troubled one in the Iberian peninsula.

  9. ZM Says:

    This twitter tweet thread may be of interest:

  10. Mike_in_cinci Says:

    Colonial subject/power works both ways for Spain, depending on the timeframe. One of the issues with some islamists is the belief that whatever once was in the caliphate, is forever in the caliphate.

  11. Scott Says:

    I currently live in Spain, outside of Madrid. The leftist faction of the government is firmly entrenched at the local level. Think multiculti socialists and you won’t go far wrong. The “conservatives” currently have a tenuous grip on power in the national government. Think something slightly left of The socialist republic of California and you will be pretty close. I don’t see that either one has the stomach to do what needs to be done. The Madrid city hall has been and is sporting a banner saying “welcome immigrants”. As best I can see individuals don’t have the personal will to admit that the grand experiment has failed and it’s time to purge the remnants. There are some who hold a contrary opinion but they don’t dare express it too loudly.
    The Spanish police are quite proud that they work very hard to root out these cells. They have been largely successful as we hear quite frequently of individuals arrested for suspicions. If Cataluña isn’t going to do the same it’s just a matter of time before the Muslim dogs begin exporting their murder to the rest of the country.

    I suspect our time here is limited to a few more years at best.

  12. R.C. Says:

    Will someone explain “groundhog’s” opening comment to me, please?

    He/she says: “Other than outright war could religions, not just Muslims agree not to convert anyone outside specified countries. That means Christians and everyone else who does it.”

    I don’t understand this comment. Is groundhog proposing that certain countries outlaw persons changing their religion, but that other countries permit it? What would be the point of that, and how would it work?

    And, what would that have to do with the NeoNeocon post, anyhow?

    From my perspective, one problem with groundhog’s post is that he uses “convert” as a verb where the person changing religion is the object, rather than the subject. But conversion, if not voluntary, is mere pretense. One should speak of a person converting; or else, of a person being pressured to pretend to have converted.

    Obviously (orthodox/originalist) Islam forbids any Muslim to adopt a new religion, on pain of death, and deputizes the family members of former Muslims to assassinate them. The idea is to kill all persons who have converted away from Islam so that they don’t start a Preference Cascade.

    This means that (orthodox/originalist) Islam isn’t going to play along with the groundhog proposal (which includes countries where conversion would be permissible).

    But perhaps I’ve misunderstood what groundhog was saying?

  13. huxley Says:

    One of the issues with some islamists is the belief that whatever once was in the caliphate, is forever in the caliphate.

    Mike_in_cinci: True.

    After 9-11 some Americans were asking, “Why do they hate us?” Others were answering, “Because of all the terrible things we’ve done to Muslims.”

    However, I was always happy to point out that in Bin Laden’s first broadcast after 9-11, he was going on about “the tragedy of Al-Andalus” — the Moors’ loss of the caliphate in Spain and Portugal after the Reconquista was completed in 1492, i.e. centuries before the USA existed.

  14. Cornhead Says:

    The founder of the Society of Jesus was Ignatius of Loyola. Today the Jesuits are essentially unknown in Spain and Catholicism is to many people just a quaint historical artifact.

  15. Cornhead Says:

    In a famous passage in Jesuit history, Ignatius came across a Muslim on his pilgrimage to a town near Barcelona. They got into a argument about Mary, the mother of Jesus. In his own mind he resolved to kill this Muslim unless his donkey took one fork in the road. Ignatius was capable of killing as he had been a soldier.

    The donkey took the other fork and the Muslim was spared. The joke amongst the Jesuits is that this was the last time the Society was lead by an ass.

  16. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The Jesuits are pretty corrupt, although they don’t hold a candle to the power held by Dominican torturers and inquisitors.

  17. Ymar Sakar Says:

    So eventually, it comes down to the West surrenders or the West resorts to overwhelming force with a give a damn attitude to collateral damages.

    My sources describe a different option.

    The Vatican, Petras Romanus in the lead, combines together a religious alliance of Protestant Evangelicals, mega churches, Islam, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox churches.

    Novus ordo seclorum

    the Anti Christ defined in the original Greek used by the Apostles, means an imitation pseudo form of a Messiah. A false messiah in other words, not an opponent of the messiah. Consider Hussein Obola as the prototype. Hitler too, was a prototype.

    The Roman Catholic Vatican is creating theology to deal with a simple question. How would the world react if aliens existed? The answer comes out to be, it is heresy to reject the existence of aliens, because it would limit the power of their god. The theology written by the Vatican is interesting. They do not fear that alien overlords would challenge the prestige and power of the Vatican or Roman Catholic church.

    They even funded a LUCIFER telescope along with universities in Switzerland and Italy, to prepare for what is coming from the sky. Although they have seen so many invisible objects hovering around cities and military installations, that they said the government should really do something about it.

    Spain got what they wanted. Now they will become refugees, and the same people that created the problem, as in Venezuela, will spread out like a plague to infect the rest of the nations. Makes perfect sense.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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