A Spanish woman married to a Moroccan jihadist has given birth to the first Spanish citizen born in the Islamic State.
The child's father, 28-year-old Mohamed Hamdouch, is notorious for his exceptional brutality and cruelty both on and off the battlefield. He is known in Spain as the "Beheader of Castillejas," in recognition of his penchant for posting photographs of himself smiling while holding the decapitated heads of Syrian soldiers.
The child's mother is Asia Ahmed Mohamed, a native of the North African Spanish exclave of Ceuta. She married Hamdouch after he gave her a suicide vest as a dowry.
Spanish nationality law stipulates that individuals born of a Spanish parent are Spaniards by birth, including those born in the Islamic State. At last count, more than 100 Spanish citizens have joined the Islamic State, including at least three women, which suggests that more Spanish "jihadi babies" may be on the way.
A new report by Spanish investigative journalist José María Gil Garre, who conducted a series of exclusive interviews with Hamdouch over the past year, offers a disturbing glimpse into the religious and ideological mindset of Hamdouch and his wife, whose commitment to jihad appear to be complete and total.
The report conveys a sense of the challenge ahead for Spain and other Western countries when faced with a generation of Western passport-holding jihadi parents who are — presumably — inculcating their "Western" children with fundamentally anti-Western values.
The report also shows how Western jihadists are justifying their brutality based on clear instructions found in the Koran and other Islamic writings. As such, the report effectively demolishes claims by U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam.
Garre describes Hamdouch as one of the "most dark and contemptible" jihadists alive today who "consistently posts photographs of himself waving decapitated heads, crucifying men and later decapitating them, and videos showing tortures and murders of the utmost cruelty."
Spanish investigative journalist José María Gil Garre (left) conducted a series of exclusive interviews with the jihadist Mohamed Hamdouch (right) over the past year, offering a disturbing glimpse into the religious and ideological mindset of Hamdouch and his wife.
Hamdouch — whose aliases are Abu Tasnim Al Magribi, Kokito Castillejas and Kokito Yu — hails from a poverty-stricken town in northern Morocco called Fnideq (Castillejas in Spanish) that is situated just two kilometers from Ceuta (which is Spanish territory).
Hamdouch is believed to have been recruited by Mustafá Maya Amaya, a Spanish convert to Islam who was born in Belgium but eventually settled in Melilla, another Spanish exclave in North Africa. Amaya was arrested in March 2014.
According to his parents, Hamdouch, who arrived in Syria in 2013, was radicalized through the Internet, where he discovered Takfirism, an offshoot of Salafism which is committed to an unwaveringly literal interpretation of the Koran and which condones acts of extreme violence to re-create the Islamic Caliphate.
In his report, Garre records the contents an interview in which he asked Hamdouch about the decapitations. Hamdouch replied:
"We have not come to kill civilians or Muslims. On the contrary, we have come to help Syrian Muslims and to ensure that our religion and our brothers triumph. We have come to implement Sharia law — it is our constitution — adopting a model of the Caliphate as according to the Prophet Mohammed. These decapitated heads belong to traitors and agents of the United States and Al Salul [a derogatory term for Saudi royalists], who receive help from the United States and countries in Europe and the Persian Gulf to ensure that the Islamic State does not extend in Iraq, Sham [greater Syria] and soon in Rome. We are fighting in Syria, but our eyes are fixed on Palestine."
In another interview, Hamdouch elaborated:
"I am a Muslim. The first thing you need to do is learn. Islam is the best of all religions. Beheading is permitted in Islam. I recommend you read the Suras [chapters] of Al-Anfal (8), At-Tawbah (9) and Mohammed (47). If you read these Suras, you will see that Allah has authorized us to behead a certain category of individuals such as apostates and traitors, such as the ones we have executed."
"My convictions emanate from what Allah said: You must kill the non-believers, regardless of whether they are Muslims or atheists. We fight against all unbelievers, except for those who revert to Islam. These we will pardon because Allah is forgiving and merciful. Nevertheless, we will fight against anyone who opposes us, we will not pardon them. We will kill them immediately."
Garre asked Hamdouch to comment on the notion that Islam does not condone the violence being perpetrated in Syria. Hamdouch replied:
"I swear by the name of Allah, this is not violence. We are defending our religion. The news media is against us. I swear by Allah, we are the most gentle and forgiving. We decided to fight so that there would be no more injustice. I am not sure if you know this, but the Islamic State has liberated thousands of prisoners, among them women, children and the elderly. Moreover, many women were raped in the prisons by Shiites and as a result they gave birth in the prisons."
In another interview, Hamdouch cited Sura 9:24 of the Koran, which calls on all Muslims, men and women, to join the jihad. He said:
"There is global unanimity that jihad is an obligation, there is no need to obtain permission from parents. Wives are also obligated to offer themselves for jihad, without authorization from her spouse."
When Garre asked Hamdouch about the Islamic State's future goals, Hamdouch again stressed the primacy of "liberating" Palestine. "We are now focused on Palestine, later Europe and then the whole world, if Allah wills it."
When asked if he planned to return to Morocco, Hamdouch said:
"Yes! I want to return. Not to live there, but to conquer. And not just Morocco, but the entire world. These are not my words, but the words of the prophet. Listen! This is my religion and I am very conscious of it. This is our Koran, which we consider to be our constitution. The fourth verse of the Sura of Mohammed states: 'So when you meet those who disbelieve, strike their necks until you have subdued them. Therefore, slay them with all your strength.'"
After photographs emerged of Hamdouch waving the decapitated heads of five Syrian soldiers, Garre emailed Hamdouch.
Garre: "Kokito, don't you want to talk to me? I've seen a photo of you with the decapitated heads of several men. You are a criminal. Your destiny will be in hell. Are you afraid to talk, or what?
Hamdouch: "I fear no one except for Allah! By means of terrorism we are going to reach you in Spain. We will also reach the United States."
Hamdouch: "You have two options. Convert to Islam, and in this case you will be honored, or pay the tax of the humiliated [jizya]. If you refuse to accept one of these two options, our future relations will be bloody. It will be a relation that ends in your beheading."
Garre: "You are a terrorist. You are a criminal. You are an apostate."
Hamdouch: "And Israel is not terrorist? You will see that in the future Israel will be erased from the map of the world! First we will destroy all of those who protect Israel, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These countries are protecting Israel. They are Israeli dogs and have sold out Palestine."
According to Garre, Hamdouch met his wife Asia through social media while she was trying to obtain information about her 19-year-old brother, Younes Ahmed Mohamed, who was killed on the battlefield, apparently sometime in early 2014. Hamdouch told her that her brother had died as a suicide bomber.
Asia and Hamdouch eventually were married by means of a religious ceremony in which she was physically present in Ceuta and he was in Syria. The marriage was apparently validated in Spain by means of a power of attorney. According to Garre, Asia arrived in Syria in June 2014 and the two settled down in al-Atareb, a strategic town in northern Syria. She gave birth to a son on March 15, 2015. He is the first Spanish citizen born in the Islamic State.
Garre asked Hamdouch if it is true that he gave his wife a suicide vest. Hamdouch replied: "Yes, it is true. The dowry was a suicide vest. It is what my wife requested."
When asked if his wife was prepared to use the vest, Hamdouch said: "I hope that Allah helps her. In any event, we are prepared for an operation because we find ourselves in a land of war and treason. I hope Allah helps us to keep our footsteps firm."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.