The Spanish Connection

Islamist extremism struck another cowardly blow in March. This time the target was civilians on board a train in Madrid. Why this attack on European soil? Why Spain—why Madrid?
From the May 2004 Trumpet Print Edition

Once, in warfare, military casualties greatly exceeded those of civilians. Today’s terrorist wars have changed that. Innocent civilians are often not only the victims of what is so clinically dubbed “collateral damage,” but are the terrorists’ deliberate target.

The devastating carnage of the Madrid train bombings on March 11 is a case in point. On that fatal day, Islamist terrorists engaged in a series of bomb attacks on board four commuter trains in the Spanish capital. These attacks, the deadliest terror attacks in Europe since World War ii, killed 191 people and wounded over 1,800.

Why such an attack on the European continent? Why was Spain targeted by these Islamic extremists? Did Madrid have any special significance to these denizens of death?

The history of this terrorist wickedness indicates that the perpetrators of these soulless acts are very meticulous in their choice of targets. This was no random attack. It was designed to convey a specific message to Spain in particular, and, in the wider sense, to the whole European Union of which Spain is a highly active member nation.

The shattering of the innocent lives of men, women and children of varying nationalities on board a Madrid train by the bombs of Islamist extremists shook not only Spain, not only Europe, but much of this whole world as its true implications dawned.

Crusading History

Numerous terrorist cells throughout the world—from the most high-profile, such as al-Qaeda, to those of whom little has been heard, such as Salafiyah Jihadiyah, believed to be instrumental in the Madrid bombings—are connected by a common religion, Islam, and a common goal, the attainment of a global Muslim caliphate. Many are loosely federated with an organization established in 1998 by Osama bin Laden: the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.

The caliphate was the term applied to the territorial realm of Mohammad and his successors, and today is used in the sense of Islam’s global spread. The caliph is the temporal, spiritual head of the Muslim religion, founded by Mohammad in the seventh century a.d. At the time, the multifarious tribes and clans of the Near East were a fractious lot, easily taken advantage of by the regional powers of the time. Some of the Arabian societies, akin to the Palestinians of today, lacked any semblance of a national identity. Having observed the power of the religion of Rome (itself a convenient mix of Judaism, Christianity and the pagan religion of old Babylon) to weld together both east and west within the Roman empire, Mohammad decided that the same strategy used by Constantine might well be exploited to create some semblance of unity among the Arabs, Persians and various others that populated the general area of the Middle East and Central Asia.

He created his new religion out of a hybrid of Judaism, Christianity and Arab mythology. Even Mohammad was surprised at just how successful this religion was at achieving its end of unifying the diverse elements of the Near East.

From its roots, this religion evolved into an essentially socialistic form, seeking to elevate the poor at the expense of the rich. It is inherently anti-capitalist. Global capitalism is viewed by Muslims as the very antithesis of their goal of a Muslim socialist empire where wealth is equitably distributed over all.

Sir Alfred Sherman, one-time adviser to Margaret Thatcher when she was British prime minister, describes Islam in the following terms: “The distinction between nation and religion or between the religious and the political, a staple of modern Western society, does not exist in Islam. … [A] Muslim believes that it is his duty to further God’s rule over the world, an aspiration that most Christians once shared but have long since abandoned” (Salisbury Review, Spring 2004).

Notice that Sir Alfred does not distinguish between the typical or the extremist in this description of Muslim belief. That is because, regardless of the level of religious zealotry displayed by an adherent to the religion of Mohammad, the religiously idealistic goal remains the same: the global spread of Islam.

In its fundamental ideology, then, Islam has much in common with the tenets of both communism and Roman Catholicism.

The practicing Catholic has available ready outlets for the expression of his traditional religion, including the evident building of a European Catholic empire (the expanding European Union), which indicates reviving success in the Vatican’s drive to catholicize the world. For the communists, however, the collapse of the Soviet Union sent many of them searching for a new ideology to fill their pseudo-spiritual vacuum.

Enter resurgent Islam with its new battery of “freedom fighters,” the human bombs of Islamist terror bent on the destruction of capitalism, Christianity and, most especially, all those considered white, successful and peace-loving. The proletariat had new heroes—veritable Islamic kamikazes.

Indeed, with the collapse of the global Soviet Communist dream, Islam has become the comfortable bedfellow of many an old anti-Jew, anti-British, anti-American socialist. These old Marxist-Maoist worshipers have turned in droves to the Muslim cause. They are, as British observer Myles Harris describes, those whom “al-Qaeda hopes will one day be ‘white Moors,’ Western converts to Islam who will bring the veil to all Britain’s women, the closure of our cinemas, the cleansing of our newspapers and books, and if God is good, the switching off of our tv sets” (ibid.). (The Moors were the Berber Muslims who conquered Spain in the eighth century a.d.)

Witnessing the outflow of anti-U.S. venom on display at the anti-Bush rally in Trafalgar Square during last year’s visit to London by the American president, Harris observed of that crowd of 100,000 Englishmen, “[T]he whole gamut of the old anti-Semitic, anti-American delusions of the Stalinist left were on display” (ibid.). Likening the religious, anti-U.S. zealotry prevalent on that occasion to the carnal reactions of the masses gathered at pre-World War ii Nuremberg rallies, Harris declared, “In 1938 it was the Jews, now it is America. There is a price for such foolishness. Like the Germans in 1938, five years from now the demonstrators may wake to see their cities in ruins” (ibid.).

But out of the twinned phenomena of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Islam as a power to be reckoned with, a more insidious and radical movement has emerged. Europe is its hotbed.

Seeds of Radicalism in Europe

The Madrid bombing is but one incident in a growing trend of Islamist violence being seeded within the confines of the historically war-torn Continent. London may well be banker to many an Islamist enterprise that is but a front to a cause of devious, anti-Semite intent. Old Europe has become the training ground for the new generation of Islamist terrorists. A pattern is emerging.

A highly westernized generation of youths, the product of Islamic immigrant parents having fled to Europe for a better life than experienced in their home countries, are increasingly turning to a radicalized anti-Western religious zealotry.

This is a homegrown European phenomenon. These young people are of a generation that is more French or German, more European in culture, than Arab or Pakistani or African. They hail from westernized families. They are educated in the schools and colleges of Western Europe. They often commence their education with little Islamic faith—but they end it as practitioners of bin Laden ideology. They are what Farhad Khosrokhavar, an Iranian-French scholar, terms “the new holy-war community of believers,” recognizing neither ethnic nor national identity, and not exhibiting any traditional Islamic values. Their particular brand of Islam is “‘a new type of nietzscheanism’ where suicide and murder become sacred acts of an elite, self-made race of believers who want to bring on a purifying apocalypse” (Weekly Standard, March 29).

Those who have followed the rise of the extremist Islamist movements in Europe believe this trend has evolved progressively over 20 years among the Continent’s huge Islamic migrant intake.

In the middle of the last decade, the fact of this homegrown radical-Muslim problem in Europe was demonstrated in a series of attacks in France. In the summer and fall of 1995, French Muslims killed 10 people and injured 114 in a series of bomb attacks—many centered in the heart of Paris—over a three-month period. These included attacks on rail cars and, quite tellingly, one in a provincial Jewish school. The culprits all fit the pattern. They were, to a man, Frenchmen of Islamic heritage who had become “intoxicated with the holy-war ideology preached in many radical mosques throughout Western Europe” (ibid.).

German and French security services have been working actively over the past decade to foil planned attacks by these European-based jihadists. “Among an estimated 20 or so planned Islamist terrorist operations in Europe that have been thwarted in recent years were plots to blow up a Christmas market in Strasbourg, to attack Western shipping in the Straits of Gibraltar, to kill U.S. airmen at a base in Belgium, to release the poison ricin in Britain, and to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris” (Christian Science Monitor, March 22).

New Pattern, Old Clash

Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the “20th hijacker” of 9/11, is one of these Europe-based jihadists. It is now also common knowledge that the other Islamist terrorists involved in the terror of 9/11 had either hailed from or had strong connections with European-based Islamist radicals who fit the same pattern. Indeed, it now appears that with the assimilation of Muslims into Western European societies the European pattern is more likely to produce radicalized young Muslim extremists than those acculturated into America.

“The jihadists of Europe have drunk deeply from the virulently anti-American, left-wing currents of continental thought and mixed it with the Islamic emotions of 1,400 years of competition with the Christian West” (ibid.). This continental phenomenon—Saudi-financed, with cash much of the time channeled through bogus charities (often London-based)—is educated in that strain of Islamic fundamentalism that thrives on the poisonous anti-Americanism of the European socialist left. It now poses the threat of many more “Madrids” within Europe as it pursues its universalist doctrine of pushing the “crusading” Catholic European Union back behind the borders of the Ottoman Empire of old.

The Paris incidents of 1995, the terrorist threats uncovered within Germany, France and Britain since 9/11, the Madrid bombing—these are but the early manifestations of a coming clash between two great movements, both intent on global hegemony: a resurrecting Holy Roman Empire, through the instrumentality of the federalist European Union, and a rising Islamic caliphate, under the increasing dominance of old Persia, Iran.

Some thinkers with a truly historical perspective are starting to see this rising crusade between a resurrecting Catholic Europe and the rising power of Near East Islamism for what it is: the return of an age-old clash of civilizations. Two great global wars, followed by a cold war, arrested the traditionally overt enmity of these old empires for a century in time. But the genie is now out of the bottle. The cold war is over. Old hatreds are free to boil up once again over those temporary restraints and borders formed by treaties and alliances forged in the crucible of convenience for their particular moment in time. History is filled with old ethnic, religious and civilizational themes that have reared their heads from time immemorial. One such theme is the enmity, bordering on hatred, which the East has ever had for the West.

In their recently released book, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, authors Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit write about how the enemies of Western civilization tend to characterize the West: “We—the Westerners, the Europeans, the Americans, the bourgeois, the cosmopolitans, the Jews, whoever—are whores; our civilization is Babylon” (Commentary, April 2004). Yet it is these authors’ observation of the Islamist mind-set on the West that is particularly chilling. They “discern something novel in the specifically Islamist condemnation of the West, which looks upon the Westerner neither as someone to ignore nor as someone to win over but, in religious terms, as an idolater to be slain” (ibid.).

True Nature of Present Religious Wars

Within a few days of 3/11, Spain voted in national elections. Before the Madrid bombing, it appeared President Jose Maria Aznar would be reelected. But public sentiment was rocked enough to send him packing in favor of outspoken Iraq war critic Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

If, indeed, the nation changed its vote because of this despicable and cowardly terrorist attack, then Spain was fooled. If the Spanish thought they were bombed simply as retaliation for the Aznar government joining with the U.S. and Britain in the war in Iraq, then the dire threats that Islamic groups spouted against France, followed by the German security service moving in on Islamist terrorist cells intent on letting off bombs in Germany (both nations having made powerful publicity out of their refusal to join the Iraq campaign), prove that the Spanish were indeed duped.

Although there are some who challenge the idea, others with a clearer view of history soon declared that what Spain had felt was the ire of Islamists at their having lost the Iberian peninsula from the empire of the caliphate 500 years ago! Indeed, the al-Qaeda offshoot that claimed responsibility itself wrote, “This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader” (Times, London, March 13).

A particularly emotive grievance of the Islamic peoples dates back to 1492 when the Muslim kingdom of Al-Andalus, today known as Andalusia, was lost to the Christians, bringing an end to 800 years of Islamic rule in Spain. On a videotape police found in the hideout of suspected perpetrators of the Madrid bombings, one of the terrorists referred to this when he said, “You know the Spanish crusade against Muslims, the expulsion from Al-Andalus and the tribunals of the Inquisitions, that was not so long ago” (Daily Telegraph, London, April 17). Bin Laden has also often spoken of Al-Andalus in the same vein. As the Times stated, “Bin Laden’s immediate foe is America, the despised modern crusader, but the search for historical revenge … leads much further back” (op. cit.).

Religion and history run deep in the veins of the average Muslim. In fact, it is on these twin pillars that much of the overt racism within Europe is built. Though many would deny it, like it or not, Islam’s creed is founded on a crusade against the infidel and the conquering of the world by its religion. In this, it has something in common with a fundamental tenet of the Roman Catholic religion. The very term catholic means universal, and that is the crusading goal of Roman Catholicism—the conquering of the world by the religion of the Vatican. This is reality!

Cast amid these opposing, reviving religious movements is the largely non-Catholic Western enclaves of the English-speaking peoples. They struggle to hold the line against the rising onslaught of the overt Islamic crusade—as well as the covertly insistent efforts of the Vatican, in concert with certain highly placed Eurocrats, to revive the old Holy Roman Empire!

In his bestselling book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington espouses a truism of today’s global societies with which much of the intelligentsia has yet to come to grips: “In the modern world, religion is a central, perhaps the central, force that motivates and mobilizes people.” Huntington wrote that “Religion is a central defining characteristic of civilizations, and, as Christopher Dawson said, ‘the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilizations rest.’ [F]our—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism—are associated with major civilizations.”

This being the case, it is surely valid to draw the conclusion that what is emerging rapidly on the world scene is but the repetition of an age-old scenario that will ultimately witness these civilizations pitted against each other. That is exactly what Bible prophecy predicts for the time just ahead.

Biblical Perspective

Such a revelation will come as no surprise to the true scholar of Bible prophecy, for among the biblical prophecy to be fulfilled in our time is a very clear signal that a coming clash between a Europe-based civilization and a Near Eastern culture is imminent. All indications point to that prophesied clash as building between a European federation dominated by Germany and Rome and a great southern federation dominated by Iran. That is what the attacks on Madrid herald!

Islamic terror will continue to strike on European soil until this push at the “king of the north” by the ” king of the south” consummates in horrific, bloody warfare. Your Bible says so! (Dan. 11:40).

Even secular thinkers can see this prospect. Columnist David Warren states that “the present confrontation between Muslim East and post-Christian West may be more fundamental, and thus likely to be much longer-lasting, than our other confrontations” (Commentary, op. cit.). Warren explained, “Through many centuries, the Muslims who surrounded Europe’s Christians posed the chief threat to Christian religious and cultural identity; for Muslims, the Christians both outside and inside the realm of Islam were the chief threat to them. Each knew the other as its rival in the evangelization of the world. No other religions … had made such universal claims to the allegiance of men as were made by both Islam and Christianity. No two peoples could use the word ‘infidel’ to describe each other with such mutual understanding of its meaning” (ibid.).

History has once again come full circle in this running sore of mutual hatred between Islamic Near East and old Catholic, crusading Europe. These ancient enemies are once again on the rise. The only power that arrested the overt expression of their traditional enmity, Western Anglo-Saxon Protestant democracy, is on the wane morally, religiously and economically. Biblical prophecy shows that it is also destined to decline as a collective political power.

The medieval loss of “Andalusia” from the caliphate of Islam to the Catholic princes of Castille and the Spanish counts of Barcelona is long remembered by the Near Eastern mind. But there is something else for which each of these powers—Catholic Europe and the Muslim Near East—has yet to contend that has the motif of Madrid symbolically attached to it.

Jerusalem was the jewel in the caliphate crown. It was wrested from the Muslims via the Catholic Crusades, only to be gained back until the British relieved the area of Palestine in World War i, taking possession of Jerusalem and paving the way for the establishment of the fledgling nation of Judaic Israel by United Nations mandate following World War ii.

Since then, Palestinian Muslims have fought a rabid propaganda battle for the destruction of Israel, to the point where they now have almost the whole world on their side. The upshot of this was the Western powers’ negotiation of a peace plan in 1991. That plan had its genesis in the city of Madrid, following frenetic U.S. diplomatic shuttling to get the parties to the negotiating table. The outcome was the land-for-peace initiative based on UN Security Council resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from territory it gained in the Six Day War of 1967. The land-for-peace principle has been at the heart and core of all negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis ever since.

How symbolic that the jihadists would take their latest campaign against the West—the Christian religion symbolized by that ancient city Jerusalem—to the very doorstep of the European city in which that foundational peace plan, which they are committed to destroy, was originally drafted and signed—Madrid.

You need to be aware of what is really behind the jihadists’ European terror strikes. Something huge is building out of all this, which is destined to soon have great impact on the global balance of power. Write now for your free copy of our booklet The King of the South and learn how this latest trend in Islamist terror will soon impact your life. Also request your own copy, free of charge, of Herbert Armstrong’s book The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like. It explains how all terror will be eliminated in the future and the way of peace opened for all nations.