While the debate over the role of Islamism in society has dominated many other European countries in recent years, Spain has been on the sidelines. In this matter, compared with other non-violent manifestations of Islamism, jihadism has received great attention in various fields, of which the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most important existences. So much so that cities such as Granada, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona have played important enclaves on the Islamist map of Europe at various times over the past half-century.
Fraternal activists in Spain, as in the rest of Europe, are a relatively small group; in fact, there are officially no associations or entities of fraternities in Spain. A characteristic of fraternity membership is the secrecy and opacity surrounding their militant behavior: those individuals and organizations designated as members deny their ties, aware that their membership or their ideological affinities may bring s consequence. Yet it is a complex web built on strong personal, ideological and economic ties to achieve common goals.
The first members of the Muslim Brotherhood arrived in Spain in the 1960s. The group is largely made up of young Syrian militants fleeing the crackdown and Middle Eastern students who eventually settled in the country. At the organizational level, some of the first associations established by these pioneers – mainly dedicated to the student field – eventually became associations representing the Muslim community at the local level and, in many cases, interlocutors for public institutions. A peculiarity of the Fraternity lies in its strategic ability to create and operate entities that not only serve the goals of its agenda but project a distorted image of its size and representation in an admittedly successful trompe l’oeil.
Today, however, the Muslim Brotherhood in Spain is far from being a hard and monolithic movement. The career of Riay Tatary, president of the Islamic Council of Spain (CIE), until his recent death, partly exemplifies this. Ideologically close to the Islamic vanguard, Tatari was one of the first brothers who founded the Spanish Muslim Association (AME), the initial matrix of the different projects of the Spanish Brotherhood. Imam Tatary would eventually become a ubiquitous figure in the Spanish Islamic system, and while the Spanish Brotherhood had other manifestations, his image helped to embody the movement’s desire for access to decision-making and decision-making positions. mechanism political.
The different entities of the Spanish League for Islamic Dialogue and Coexistence (LIDCOE) – the only Spanish entity formally affiliated with the Federation of Islamic The Lencia Islamic Cultural Center constitutes a typical example of implantation and work at the local level, with important ideological and financial links at the international level. They persevere and maintain good relationships with local administrations and agencies, focusing on associations and grassroots work to increase their influence and influence. With generous funding from the Gulf region, they have been expanding their model in different parts of the Spanish geography (Barcelona, Zaragoza, Logroño, etc.) with notable success, especially among the younger generations , due to their dynamism and variety of activities they carry out activities and services in different local communities. Like other European organizations affiliated with the Fraternity of FIOE, Qatar Charity Organization – A Qatari non-governmental organization (NGO) with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – through its missionary programs Gass Who provided the funding that made its growth possible for at least the past decade.
A distinctive aspect of the Spanish Muslim Brotherhood is that Various groups, mainly composed of individuals of Syrian origin, have undergone a transition from participatory to violent. Abu Dahdah’s network is undoubtedly its best-known representative of what eventually became one of the largest, most sophisticated and well-connected jihadist networks in Europe over the past 30 years. It consisted of a tight-knit network of members of the Syrian Brotherhood living in Spain and worked to develop the global terrorism strategy of the then recently formed Al Qaeda. The importance of the Abu Dahdah network can be gauged, for example, by looking at the ties linking some of its members to the Hamburg cell responsible for 9/11, and the role some of its members played in the deadly attack. 11-M in Madrid.
Moment of possibility for radical Islamists to co-exist, interact, develop and exploit the framework currently offered mainstream The presence of fraternities in Spain is more than a coincidence. In the latest incident, representatives of the highest institution of Islam in Spain were involved in a terrorism investigation, directly damaging a fundamental link in that structure. Awaiting trial, Operation WAMOR involved the dismantling of the largest jihadist terrorism financing structure ever uncovered in Spain.complex reasons attributed to Kuteni ClanMentored by CIE and a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain (UCIDE), who also served as administrator of the Abu Bakr Mosque, crimes belonging to a criminal organization, cooperation with terrorist organizations, financing of terrorism, money laundering, tax fraud, Forgery of documents and promotion of illegal immigration.
These two cases suffice to illustrate the two faces of the Muslim Brotherhood in Spain, one mainstream And another jihadist, although the line between the two is not clear because there are quite a few gray areas. Moreover, both cases demonstrate how, far from being dissident or dishonest elements of the movement, elements of the two networks fit together perfectly, exploiting their influence in the Spanish Islamic establishment to develop structures and channels for financing terrorism. a large scale.
Now, although a branch of the Spanish Muslim Brotherhood has been involved in jihad for the past 25 years, most movements in Spain are completely legal. In fact, the different associations and groups that can be affiliated with the Brotherhood operate an extensive network of mosques and Islamic centers in which they organize many activities and events that benefit the local community.At the same time, this eventually turns them into official representatives or de facto Muslim community, which opened the door for this group to establish relations with different Spanish authorities and facilitated their task of establishing themselves as legitimate and moderate interlocutors.
Despite its small size, the impact achieved by different members of the Spanish Muslim Brotherhood depends on three basic elements: the organizational maturity of its network, the education of its members, and the sources of funding available to them. With regard to this last point, it is worth mentioning the diversification of funding sources; although the differentiating factor lies in international funding sources, organizations associated with the Spanish Brotherhood deploy some tools with a scope of action that exceeds that of other organizations. On the one hand, because of their popularity, their organization and their professionalism, and because of the ignorance of the authorities, who do not understand their nature, they are one of the largest recipients of public assistance – including state, territory and local – Start-up integration projects, interfaith dialogue, etc.On the other hand, these organizations’ close ties to apparently independent Islamic NGOs such as islamic relief spanish or human touch Spain was also good for the fraternities: it widened their sphere of influence, made them visible as reference associations, improved their knowledge of local social structures, etc.
Another essential characteristic of a fraternity is its willingness and ability to mechanism National politics and business. Pragmatism is a distinguishing feature of the Brotherhood, and far from conforming to the clichés that cast them as a convenient crutch for the European left, its members in Spain have been able to build relationships with representatives of all sensibilities of the political spectrum, not only through the national level, but Also by region and place.
After 40 years of organized federations in Spain, the movement is inevitably approaching a turning point. The pioneer generation, who no longer represented the sensibilities of most radicals, were mainly born in Spain and had very different idiosyncrasies and natures from their predecessors. A new crop of leaders is poised to take over, and while most of them have yet to hold key positions, their identities are clear. In addition to overcoming existing rifts between the various athletic associations, these new leaders are distinguished by their familiarity with the social context, their impact through new channels of communication, their innovative initiatives and the same determination and perseverance in their work. The changes that come to the fore, which make a generation that cannot be postponed, and the dynamics that take place in this case are situations that need to be closely monitored.
So, is the Muslim Brotherhood and its activities a threat to Spain? Far from being the main objective of this study, which aims nothing more than to lay the groundwork for an unresolved and necessary national debate within Spanish society, it is difficult to avoid it. Faced with a mixed response, it is necessary to make it clear that most associations and individuals connected in some way with the Spanish Brotherhood operate largely within the law and their activities enjoy their Constitutional rights, in terms of defending and working for the Islamic order. The potential negative security impact of the Muslim Brotherhood is largely indirect and difficult to measure empirically, although, as this report details, several of the longest-running terrorist groups in our country’s history have deep deeply rooted in the movement. Also, special attention should be paid to its narrative, which in many cases fosters an «us against them» mentality, and whose ideological assumptions, while not necessarily encouraging violence, can seriously undermine social cohesion.
Image: Shadows of pedestrians on the street. Photo: Matthew Ansley (@ansleycreative).