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Assad warns that Spain attack was 'tip of iceberg'

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Assad warns that Spain attack was 'tip of iceberg'
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pictured in Damascus in January 2015. Photo: AFP
10:26 CEST+02:00
In an interview with a Swedish newspaper, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that Spain's terrorist attacks ten years ago, as well as those in London and the recent Charlie Hebdo shootings are just "the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to terrorism in Europe.

"As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe," al-Assad told Swedish newspaper Expressen.

The Syrian leader spoke widely on Syria, the threat of Isis and the recent spate of terror attacks in Europe.

"Everything that happened in Europe, and I mean terrorist attacks, we warned from the very beginning of the crisis," he said.

"We’ve had experience with those kind of terrorists for 50 years now. They don’t listen, so what happened was warned of before, and what we saw in France, in Charlie Hebdo, the suicide attempts in Copenhagen, in London, in Spain ten years ago, this is only the tip of the iceberg; terrorism is a huge mountain," he added.

Assad was refering to the March 11th attacks in 2004 in which an al-Qaeda inspired cell simultaneously bombed four rush-hour commuter trains killing 191 people and injuring almost two thousand.  

Al-Assad said that terrorism is not just a problem for the Middle East, but one the whole world needs to be tackling.

"Terrorism is not a domestic issue, it’s not even regional, it’s global," the president said.

He also took a swipe at the close ties between the West and Saudi Arabia:

"As long as many European officials are still adulating countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar just for their money and selling their values and allowing the Wahhabi (a branch of ultraconservative Sunni Islam) dark ideology to infiltrate and be instilled in some communities in Europe, we have to expect more attacks in that regard."

Spain recently held an informal ministerial meeting on the issue of terrorism and immigration in Europe and around the Mediterranean, during which Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy emphasized that "the Islamic world is also a victim of terrorism".

According to the EU, more than 6,000 people have left Europe to join jihadist Isis fighters in Syria.

Spanish police recently arrested 11 people in Catalonia who were planning an attack in the region, the latest in a number of anti-terror raids across the country.

In February 2015, Spain’s two main political parties signed a pact to fight Islamic extremism with new anti-jihadist laws in the wake of January’s attacks on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris. 

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