In a revealing on-camera interview, Islamist militants in Aleppo, Syria, are offering a glimpse into their grander goals after they rid themselves of President Bashar Assad’s rule.
In the interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), one fighter says that “Allah willing,” the next goals are to invade Israel, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and – most intriguingly - Spain.
Tellingly, they refer to Spain as Andalusia, the once heartland of Muslim rule in Spain after Muslim forces invaded in the year 711. They also express a desire to capture Cordoba in Spain, the site of an Islamic Caliphate during the Middle Ages. This will likely raise further concerns about what Syria may look like post-Assad.
As is typical of Islamist extremists, they never say the word “Israel,” instead referring to sites in the Jewish state including Jerusalem. Here’s part of the transcript:
Syrian mujahid: We will move on. When, Allah willing, we cleanse Syria, we won’t stop there. We will continue to the Shebaa Farms and Kafr Shuba, and we will pass through the Golan Heights all the way to Jerusalem. And then…
Other Syrian mujahid: All the way to Persia.
Syrian mujahid: Then we will make an about-turn, cleanse Iraq, where there is still some filth. After we are done with Iraq, we will move on to Constantinople, and then Cordoba and Andalusia. That’s it. Now that we have weapons, we don’t intend to ever lay them down.
By Persia, they mean Iran, while Constantinople refers to modern day Istanbul in Turkey, the once Muslim capital of the Ottoman Empire.
It’s not the first time militant Islamists have expressed the dream of reasserting a Muslim caliphate in Europe. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 commuters, Spanish police found a videotape in the terrorists’ lair in which the bombers – like the Syrian rebels - also referred to Spain as “Andalusia.”
In an interview with Fox News after the bombing, then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said, “In the eyes of Islamic terrorism, it looks at the West, and Spain is a very special part of this parcel, because they feel that to recover Spain is to get back some of their territory.”
Sitting on the ground next to their weapons and wearing ammunition vests, the militant Islamists readily call themselves “terrorists” and dub their group the “Robin Hood Brigades.” More of the transcript:
Syrian mujahid: The West, Bashar, and America should be happy. This is what you get for supporting the Bashar regime. We told you that we wanted freedom. If you had removed him, you’d never have heard from us again. You have brought this upon yourselves. We have become Islamists. We have become terrorists. You forced this situation upon us. You could have called him up and said: “Bashar, get out.” He would have left. But instead, you supported and financed him. Why? Because he serves as [Israel’s] border guard. Not a bullet has been fired there in the past 48 years.
Other Syrian mujahid: What do you say? Should we change the name of our unit?
Syrian mujahid off camera: We should call ourselves the Al-Rahman Brigade.
Syrian mujahid: No, we should call ourselves the Robin Hood Brigades.
The video was first broadcast in October, but translated and posted by MEMRI this week. Watch the full clip via MEMRI: