Spain’s previous Socialist administration secretly approved a plan for tackling jihadist terrorism in June 2010.
Under former prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish government was already trying to “prevent the recruitment of new terrorists, improve border control, reinforce security in crowded places, and act against the criminals’ support groups and financing networks.”
One of the plan’s main points was the need to fully recognize the Muslim community in Spain
The plan warned about the risk posed by returning combatants, who were then mostly fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Al Qaeda’s stronghold.
Today the danger is much greater as a result of the Islamic State’s rising power in Syria and Iraq and its successful recruitment drives in Spain and elsewhere.
On Friday of this week, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, of the Popular Party (PP), will ask the cabinet to approve a plan against “violent radicalization” that aims to create “a counter-narrative to the jihadist rhetoric,” especially on the social networks.
The main points advanced by the Mariano Rajoy administration bear a striking resemblance to Zapatero’s 2010 plan.
The strategy, which was drawn up by the National Center for Anti-terrorist Coordination, was put down on paper in 2012 at the request of the secretary of state for security at the time, Ignacio Ulloa.
One of its main points was the need to fully recognize the Muslim community in Spain, ensuring its access to all rights and freedoms as well as its compliance with legal obligations and responsibilities.
The plan aimed to prevent the kind of social exclusion that could be used by radicals to foment extremist thought. Training for civil servants, teachers and social workers was envisioned.
Zapatero’s strategy also considered plans to monitor financing channels and recommended introducing the funding of terrorism into the penal code. Banks would be asked to exercise greater responsibility in informing about suspect transactions.
The security plan recommended barring known radicals from entering the country and ejecting them if they posed an evident security risk. Convicted jihadists serving time in Spanish penitentiaries faced measures such as isolation, transfers and restricted visiting regimes.
The Socialist anti-terrorism plan sought to limit the proliferation of unlawful mosques and education centers, and recommended legal reforms to prevent certain conducts from going unpunished as a result of a lack of specific legislation in the penal code.
The document supported sanctioning the recruitment, training and radicalization of individuals, and deporting foreigners found to be actively promoting radical Islam, acts of violence and unconstitutional behavior.