Terror risk in Spain much lower because of 'proper integration policies'
ANTI-JIHAD prosecutor in Spain's National Court, Dolores Delgado, says there is no connection between the arrest of Paris terror fugitive Salah Abdesalam and the fatal shooting of one of his DAESH colleagues, and the morning's attacks at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station.
She says the Brussels bombings were not an improvised revenge reaction, but would have been planned to coincide with Easter week when air travel and public transport movements were at their peak.
An attack of this magnitude takes a lot of planning, and could not have been organised in the four days since Abdesalam's arrest, she insists.
And the aim is always to 'cause as much chaos as possible'.
“Saying something has failed in the investigations in Brussels would be unjust,” Sra Delgado says.
She reveals that Belgian authorities had known for some time that an attack of this nature in the country was likely to occur, and several in the planning stages have already been thwarted.
Although Spain has upped its terrorism risk alert level to 4 – the highest being 5 – since the Paris attacks, Sra Delgado says the danger is no higher on Spanish soil than anywhere else in Europe; if anything, it is considerably lower.
Spain has 363 people under close scrutiny by Intelligence services for their direct or indirect connections with DAESH terrorism, and between 133 and 135 Jihad recruits trained in combat – some of whom have returned from Syria, some in prison, but very few still walking the streets – but France and Belgium are aware of between 1,300 and 1,400 people who have left for Syria.
Delgado says the risk of terror attacks in a given country is directly proportionate to the number of residents who have joined DAESH and have been to, or plan to go to, Syria or Iraq for combat training.
In France and Belgium, DAESH recruits are second- and third-generation Algerians and Moroccans who are French and Belgian and, in some cases, their parents are, too, having been born there.
They often live in ghettos – France in particular has always had trouble with poor integration and few community facilities and services in its outers suburbs, leading to crime, drugs and conflict in these areas, and Brussels' Molenbeek district is another suburb home to ghettos occupied by descendants of north African migrants.
But in Spain 'we do not have that type of profile', Delgado stresses – even though some parts of Spain have higher concentrations of second- and third-generation Muslims, such as Ceuta and Melilla due to their land borders with Morocco, and the Mediterranean coast, “as a society, we do not exclude people,” the prosecutor explains.
Spain's international residents are treated as any other part of society and services and facilities exist to help foreigners with different needs to natives, as well as active integration policies meaning the likelihood of vulnerable Spanish-born youths becoming directionless, feeling ostracised by their own country and turning into cannon fodder for DAESH recruiters is much more remote than in other nations where they are kept on the fringes of society for generations.
“That's why integration policies are so vital,” Sra Delgado stresses.
“Spain's all-inclusive approach to other nationalities means the proportion of potential or actual combat-trained Jihad fighters in the country is less than 10% of that of France or Belgium.”