The Spanish Civil Guard arrested a suspected Al-Qaeda operative. a few weeks ago. According to media reports, the 26-year-old man, originally from Cuba, was then released after a 45-minute closed-door arraignment and has to report daily to the police station nearest his home in Cala Rajada, on the northeast side of the Spanish island of Mallorca. According to the Spanish Interior Ministry's statement, the young man, identified as Jose Ernesto Feliu Mora, was wanted for allegedly being an Al-Qaeda's member and for having 1,120 radical videos on the Internet, mostly produced by him. Reports mention that he used these YouTube videos with jihadi, or holy war, content to indoctrinate other individuals. The Interior Ministry's statement added that the police also seized from him portable computers, external hard drives and USB memory sticks.
Feliu Mora converted years ago to Islam, probably in Spain. He took the name of Khalid Siyf Allahu Almaslul and grew his Muslim beard. During his free time he learned Arabic, apparently on his own, and tried several times to move to Pakistan to join terrorist training camps. Media outlets reported that he was obsessed with attacking Spanish troops in Afghanistan, while promoting online hate against the U.S.. The police started to track his e-mails in 2010, when Feliu Mora allegedly tried to contact leading Islamic fundamentalists.
Al-Qaeda on the island of Mallorca
Although Almaslul used to live with his mother and his half-brother in Mallorca, one of the Balearic islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. However, he was not the only Al-Qaeda operative to do so.. Several Al-Qaeda members have spent time on Mallorca. The most known is Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, co-founder of Al-Qaeda, now imprisoned in the ADX Florence facility in Colorado. Salim, born in Sudan from Iraqi parents, was involved in the terrorist attack against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Just before being arrested in Germany, Salim lived for a while in a luxurious apartment in Mallorca. The apartment belonged to Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian Al-Qaeda member who was one of the masterminds of the 1998-attack against the U.S. embassies. Brahim, who allegedly had "routine" contacts with Tariq Ramadan, was detained by the Spanish authorities for financing Al-Qaeda in Spain. He lived for 14 years on Mallorca, where his apartment on the island was used as a logistical center for terrorist activities.
Two more Al-Qaeda terrorists, involved in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, spent time in Mallorca. One, Jamal Ahmidan, known as "The Chinese," had been born in Morocco and lived surrounded by call girls and expensive cars. Just one week before the train attacks, he went to Mallorca to organize a sale of hashish and Ecstasy to finance the terrorist attack. Just after the attacks, however, police came close to his hiding place, and Ahmidan blew up himself in the Madrid' suburb of Leganes. The other mna involved in the 2004 attacks was the ringleader: Serhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, known as "El Tunecino" (The Tunisian); he was involved a love relationship with Nora, the daughter of Ahmed Brahim, and often visited the island of Mallorca. He also blew himself up in Leganes, along with Ahmidan.
Among Islamist terrorists who stayed on Mallorca there was also Mohamed Achraf, sentenced by a Spanish court to 14 years in prison for plotting a car bomb attack on government buildings in Madrid. While in jail on Maillorca in 2002, Achraf managed to organize and lead a terrorist cell before eventually being transferred to the prison of Salamanca.
Cuba and Al-Qaeda
The Cuban origin of the suspected Al-Qaeda operative again provoked questions about links between the Cuban regime and the terrorist movement. The book For Whom the Bell Tolls by Gautam Maitra states that according to a Country Reports on Terrorism released by the Office of the Coordinator for Terrorism in 2006, Cuba "virtually" refused to agree with U.S. request to support the U.S. in its War on Terrorism. "Cuba, according to the report, has not, so far, made any attempt towards tracking, blocking, or seizing terrorist assets despite legal provisions to do so. Cuba has never spoken against either the Al-Qaeda or any other group designated in the FTO list, the report claims. Nor did Cuba embark on any counter terrorist drives or join any international or regional forum on counter terrorism issues," the book states.
In 2007, the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami [UM] reported that that the Cuban regime could have links with Al-Qaeda through the Polisario, a terrorist group fighting for the independence from Morocco of the Western Sahara. Cuba has been sponsoring and supporting the Polisario since its birth in 1973. In recent years, the Moroccan government has accused the Polisario of "coordination and cooperation with al-Qaeda." According to the UM, "the 'Cuban brigade' of advisors and intelligence operatives stationed within the Polisario zone may be directly or indirectly supporting al-Qaeda operations and training camps. At the very least, it would be unwise to assume that Cuba's sophisticated intelligence apparatus is not providing valuable information and guidance to Polisario with a tacit consent to pass it on to an enemy (al-Qaeda) of a mutual enemy (the U.S.)."
Around the beginning of September, the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera sparked the rumor that another terrorist group, Hezbollah, was opening a base in Cuba. The news item stated that the organization chose Cuba as a safe haven from where to plan attacks against Israeli targets in Latin America to avenge the death of the Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyah.
The possible links with Feliu Mora and Al-Qaeda reminded Spain that the threat of terrorism is still there, and that the country could be again attacked. Even though Feliu Mora was released, his videos are still circulating on the internet and luring new members, especially adolescents. His account on Twitter is still active, and it is still possible to read messages against Christians and Jews. Although his account on Facebook was blocked, a website saved what had used to be front page of his account. According to the media, the Spanish police are now trying to erase his profiles on the Internet. It seems that next battle against terrorism will not be done only on the ground but also online -- especially on social networks -- which are rapidly proliferating as a way to recruit young people to join the jihad against the West.