While it is true that many Islamic preachers regularly refer to Spain as occupied territory in their sermons and on their Websites, Hamas has also requested Spain surrender their country to them. Hamas itself has demanded the return of the city of Seville to Islam. On the Website 'Al Fateh,' Hamas demanded the return of Seville to the "lost paradise" of Al Andalus. "Dress me, for I am the bride of the land of Al Andalus" the online Children's magazine said, as it cheerfully detailed the lives and deaths of the Arab suicide bombers they like to refer to as "martyrs."
Al-Andalus is the Moorish name for Spain, parts of which were ruled by Muslims for about eight centuries until the last Moorish bastion, Granada, succumbed to the Christian Reconquest in 1492.
The terrorists will undoubtedly attempt to extend their offensive from Northern Africa to European soil, anti-terrorism judge Baltasar Garzon warned, cautioning that Spain was at a "very high risk" of suffering an Islamist attack.
The reference to al-Andalus was not the first by al-Qaeda, which has also vowed to put an end to the Spanish "occupation" of the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast.
Such announcements worry the security services in Spain, where 29 mainly Moroccan suspects are on trial for the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and injured about 1,800 people.
The bombings were mainly a reaction to the war alliance of Spain's former conservative government with the United States in Iraq, but some of the terrorists are also known to have dreamed of reconquering al-Andalus.
The bloodbath in Algiers could launch a new string of attacks in Northern Africa and Europe, including Spain, terrorism expert Fernando Reinares warned.
Al-Qaeda is extending its activities in Northern Africa, where the Algiers bombings were preceded by the suicides of three Moroccan Islamists who blew themselves up to avoid being captured by police on Tuesday.
The Algerian-based al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), intends to federate North African Islamist cells under a common umbrella.
Some of the people who could attack Spain may already be in the country, where nearly 80 per cent of prison inmates jailed on charges related to international terrorism have come from Northern Africa over the past five years.
Islamist radicals proselytize at an estimated 10 per cent of Spain's hundreds of unofficial mosques, which operate in garages, basements and the like.
Spain has become an important base for the recruitment of suicide bombers who are sent to Iraq, according to press reports. Some of the fighters are believed to be trained in new al-Qaeda camps in Sahel countries such as Mali, Niger or Mauritania.
The Madrid train bombings appear to have been organized by a home- grown Islamist cell with the backing of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).
Ceuta and Melilla, which have sizeable Muslim populations, could well be the next targets, judge Garzon warned.
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