An article that Kern authored and published in April appears there, entitled Spain’s Feminized War on Terror Goes Awry, April 22, 2007. The article addresses the anti-terrorism policy blunders of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. It should be noted that Spain faces a terrorist organization that is fighting for independence in Basque country, known as the ETA; I leave that for you to investigate if you are interested, and I recommend the article I am quoting from as a good place to start. The other terrorist threat that Spain faces is, of course, Islamic terrorists. I have reproduced here some key excerpts from the cited article relating to Islamic terrorists, and interspersed my own comments.
For many Spaniards, including his supporters, Zapatero is an accidental political leader who was thrust into the prime minister’s office by the Islamic terrorists who set off a series of train bombs in Madrid that killed 191 people only three days before the 2004 general elections. Although the incumbent Popular Party (PP) was widely expected to win another term in office, Zapatero benefited from the hysteria fomented by Spain’s left-leaning mass media in the hours before voters went to the polls. With the aid of a motley hodge-podge of leftist and nationalist parties, Zapatero, who failed to win an absolute majority, was able to cobble together a coalition government. Thus Zapatero, who is dogmatically attached to the ideas of the European left, is beholden to the extreme left in order to remain in power.
That terror strike reaped excellent benefits for the terrorists. It motivated the Spanish electorate to vote in a political leader who immediately broke with all his previous statements regarding the terrorists that threaten Spain, and who then set a brave, new course of appeasement.
Setbacks on the International Arena
A few days after taking office, Zapatero withdrew the 1,300 Spanish troops that were deployed to Iraq by the previous government of José Maria Aznar. Opponents of the withdrawal accused Zapatero, who broke his own campaign pledge that Spanish troops would remain in Iraq until the United Nations voted on the matter later that summer, of naively thinking that the Al-Qaeda terrorist problem exists only because of the war in Iraq. And although it is true that a majority of Spaniards opposed the intervention in Iraq, many also believed that Zapatero’s precipitous action smacked of appeasement that not only weakened Spanish national security, but also destroyed the international credibility and stature that Spain had built up during the Aznar government.
Although the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq did not make much of a strategic difference in terms of the war effort, the move sent a symbolic message that represented a major victory for Al-Qaeda. Because what Zapatero did not seem to understand was that Islamic radicals still consider four-fifths of Spain to be Muslim land that must be liberated from the Spanish infidels who drove out the Moors in what is known as the Reconquista (711-1492). Thus by appearing to give in to the demands of medieval-minded Islamic extremists, Zapatero reinforced the perception that it is the terrorists, not the government, that sets the agenda in Spain.
The terrorist attack in Madrid resulted, only several days later, in the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. The terrorists got what they wanted, and fast!
Confirming the growing suspicion that Zapatero’s post-modern approach to fighting terrorism lacks a basis in reality, he told TIME Magazine in September 2004 that “sexual equality is a lot more effective against terrorism than military strength”. At the same time, he announced an ill-defined initiative he calls the “Alliance of Civilizations“, which borrows heavily from the “Dialogue of Civilizations” concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran during the 1990s; in its essence, the initiative calls on the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists, and on terms set by the latter.
Indeed, Zapatero seems to believe that multilateral group therapy is the best way to work out his differences with the Islamic extremists who want to take over his country. But the prime minister’s initiative has been widely criticized in Spain and elsewhere because of its failure to comprehend that Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are at war not just with Spain or other individual states, but with the very ideals of Western society... and especially with hyper-secularists like Zapatero himself.
These guys are not just at war with the ideals of Western society; they are at war with the ideals of anyone who does not conform to their desires.
But what do the terrorists think? Well, they seem to understand Zapatero better than Zapatero understands himself. Indeed, in March 2007, Al-Qaeda launched new threats against Spain, this time over its military deployment in Afghanistan. In a video, a hooded man said the presence of Spanish troops in Afghanistan “exposes Spain again to threats” unless they withdraw their troops from the country. “The Spanish people have been tricked by a socialist government which withdrew troops from Iraq and sent 600 to Afghanistan,” the man proclaimed. So much for Zapatero’s truce with Islam.
No surprise here; the parallels with Chamberlain in 1938 are remarkable.
The irony, however, is that Zapatero, who is deathly afraid of the domestic political fallout of military casualties abroad, has placed so many restrictions on Spain’s presence in Afghanistan that in the over three years that they have been there, Spanish troops have almost never left their bases (which, not surprisingly, are located in the most pacific region of Afghanistan). In fact, as everyone familiar with the embarrassing reality knows, Spanish troops do not serve any meaningful purpose in Afghanistan because they focus all of their efforts on keeping out of harm’s way.
Here's a hint for Prime Minister Zapatero: you need some guts.
The terrorists see that Spain flinched as a result of the Madrid attack; now they have zero respect for you. The more you try to limit your casualties, the more the terrorists hold you hostage and terrorize you.
What Spain needs to do is have its military in Afghanistan take a more active role in battling the terrorists, while Spanish authorities at home do the same, against not just Al Qaeda, but against the ETA, as well.
Even if Spanish forces get beat up some on the battlefield, at least the terrorists will respect Spain. Spain needs to make the terrorists think twice about attacking, and that just isn't going to happen if Spain refuses to fight.
And, make no mistake about it: Spain is just as threatened as Israel. As we all know, Spain was once a part of the Caliphate. Bin Laden, and others like him, won't stop until Spain has submitted again.
The radical Muslims will retake all of Spain (and other places) that Muslims held before, then they will take any parts of Spain (and other places) that Muslims had not previously conquered. Non-Muslims will be offered the triple choice of conversion to Islam (as the terrorists understand it), submission under dhimmi status, or death. No matter what Spaniards do, it will never be enough to satisfy radical Muslim imperialists; the fate of Spain will be the same as that of other infidel lands.
The road of appeasement has no end short of Hell-on-Earth.
In any case, most Spaniards now fear that Zapatero’s appeasement tactics have left Spain dangerously susceptible to terrorist intimidation and coercion. Indeed, polls show that many voters believe Spain is much more of a target for terrorists today than before. In fact, Zapatero’s ruling Socialist Party has fallen behind the opposition PP for the first time in 18 months in opinion polls.
Another article by Kern is entitled Spain’s Counter-Terrorism Policy Under Challenge by Al-Qaeda and ETA, dated July 6, 2007. Again, here are excerpts with my comments.
As if the terrorist threat posed by ETA were not enough, the Spanish Secret Service (CNI) in April warned of the increased risk of a new terrorist attack in Spain by Islamic extremists. According to an April 22 report in El Pais, a daily newspaper that is close to the Zapatero government, the CNI believes that al-Qaeda has established an active cell in Spain and that the country is now the group’s prime target in Europe.
Indeed, al-Qaeda frequently says that it intends to recover “al-Andalus,” a Moorish reference to the four-fifths of Spain that was ruled by Muslims for 800 years until 1492. For example, in claiming responsibility for the April 11 bombing in Algiers which killed 24 people, an organization called Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said: “We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus.”
As we were saying?
Fears of another attack have been heightened because of the international spotlight on the 29 mainly Moroccan suspects who are on trial for the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and injured about 1,800 people. That attack is believed to have been carried out by two groups: the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) and the shadowy Takfir Wal Hijra, which stems from Egypt. Although these groups are said to act on their own, they also receive instructions from al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, extremists from Pakistan are active in the northeastern region of Catalonia, especially in Barcelona, where police are tracking Asian groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). The JEM has been implicated in the 2005 bombings of the London Underground, while the LET is linked to attacks in India.
Two things to note here: one is the connection between terrorists and Pakistan; the other is the connection between terrorism in Spain and terrorism in India.
The war against extremist Islamic terrorists is a global one, and the global community needs to get involved and draw the line against terror. There can be no tolerance of certain Islamic terrorist groups, because they all threaten pretty much anyone within reach; they all need to be condemned and fought. Otherwise, as one group succeeds against one enemy and grows stronger, it will spread like a cancer and threaten others; meanwhile, it will set an example that should not be allowed to be set.
Terrorism experts say that Islamic extremists proselytize at the hundreds of unofficial mosques that operate in garages and basements throughout Spain. According to El Pais, terrorists recruited in Spain are trained in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Africa, where al-Qaeda teaches them how to handle weapons and explosives; those who subsequently return to Spain pose the greatest threat to security.
Interesting how it is the informal "mosques" that pose the threat. That helps keep the radicals a little more off the counterterrorist radar.
Zapatero had hoped to buy his peace with Islamic extremists by withdrawing the 1,300 Spanish troops deployed to Iraq by the previous government of Jose Maria Aznar. Yet Spain’s military presence in Afghanistan and Lebanon, as well as the government’s continuing crackdown on Islamic radicals at home, ensures that it will remain high on al-Qaeda’s hit list.
That last sentence flies in the face of everything the author has been saying; I think it may have been misworded, and perhaps should read more along the lines of this:
"Despite Spain's military presence in Afghanistan and Lebanon, as well as the government’s continuing crackdown on Islamic radicals at home, it will remain high on al-Qaeda’s hit list."
Certainly, I think we have established that the terrorists would more likely be backed off by a more defiant attitude, not a more appeasing one.