Madrid train bombings On the 11th March 2004, again Islamic Jihadis showed the world “The Game is not Over”, and opened new Fronts to unleash the new set of Wars demeaning the voice of the American regime and the target was morning commuter trains of Madrid in Spain.Exploding the four commuter trains known as Cercanías in Spain, they made it clear that more is going to follow for the reasons of all the Barbarisms activities unleashed by Americans on the soils of Iraq and other Arab nations. In the explosions that erupted, nearly 200 people were killed and thousands injured.
All these trains were running on same lines and in the same direction that’s between Alcalá de Henares and Atocha station in Madrid. Thirteen improvised explosive devices were used to blow the trains to shatter the very foundation of the democracy, peace and fraternity, except one which did not explode thus saving the lives of thousands.Judicial Investigations revealed the explosions to take place between 07:37 and 7: 40 hours, three bombs shook Atocha Station ravaging train number 21431. As per the video recordings taken from the station security system, the first explosion took place at 7:37, whereas others took place within 4 seconds at 7:38.
Two bombs exploded the carriages of El Pozo del Tío Raimundo Station on train number 21435 at approximately 07:38, just as the train was starting to leave the station whereas one bomb exploded at Santa Eugenia Station on the train number 21713 at approximately 07:38 pm. According to the Investigators, mobile phones were used to detonate 10 bombs which were hidden in backpacks on the trains. Exactly at 08:00, emergency relief workers arrived at the bombing sites. Police came into action reporting wounded victims along with ensued Cage Operation to track the villains.
By 08:30 Samur, an emergency ambulance service, had already set up a “field hospital” at Daoiz y Velarde. At 08:45 Renfe, the national railway operator, stopped the services of other trains in and out of Madrid, even stations saw the closures of Line 1 of the Madrid metro and at 08:56, police sealed the streets near the Atocha and evacuated the station.Though the Spanish Government claimed that the explosive used was titadine, but according to the Forensic analysis of one of the remaining unexploded devices found at El Pozo, the explosive which was used was Goma-2, manufactured in Spain and had never been used by ETA since 1980s. In fact after the interrogations it was found that three people in ski masks getting on and off the trains several times at Alcalá de Henares between 7:00 and 7:10 and a van were found parked outside the station at Alcalá de Henares which contained detonators, audio tapes with Quranic verses, and cell phones.
On 12th July 2004, the provincial chief of the TEDAX, a bomb expert of the Spanish police, declared that damage caused in the trains was caused by military explosives like C3 or C4, and deactivated rucksacks too contained some type of explosives. A mobile phone Mitsubishi Trium was used as a timer that required a SIM card to activate the alarm, and detonate. This analysis of the SIM card helped the police to arrest the first suspects. It was on 13th March, it was confirmed that the attacks came from an Islamic group.
These towns are home to 250,000 people including students, blue-collar workers, middle-class people who are every day travelers of these trains commuting from neighboring communities. Out of the dead forty one were from the thirteen other countries, like 15 victims were from Romania region, five were from Ecuador and Peru, Four had settled from Poland, Three were from Colombia, Two were from Honduras and one each from Bulgaria, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Reoublic, Guinea-Bissau, France and Morocco.The meaning that emerged among the people of such terrorist attack had been very complex , they were not able to comprehend the an unfocused declaration of war, how the human catastrophe could be attended by the health department of the crisis management team, the method of police investigations trying to find out the real culprits and producing evidences and information dispersed to the public through the government, the opposition and the media, the political repercussions going on in an ongoing electoral campaigns,Again on 2nd April, an unsuccessful attempt was made to throw the bomb on the track of the high-speed AVE train but was unsuccessful. (AVE, is an acronym for Alta Velocidad Española which literally means, “Spanish High Speed”.
It is a high speed train that can run at a speed of 300 km/h on dedicated track.As per reports of BBC News on 30th March 2004, Jose Maria Asnar government blamed Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) for the bombings coinciding with elections, as the result the government had to bear the fruit. ETA are known as the masters of bombings as they had known to be attacking Madrid previously too, they had also planted delayed-action bombs killing rescue workers and known for using traps such as explosives in wallets, and even attempted to attack trains. But the attacks on Madrid trains on March were on a more grand scale and according to the experts; the tactics used were more close to Islamic militant extremist groups, with a links to Al-Qaida.
Even Nine months after the incident a right-wing conspiracy theory claiming the Basque separatist group Eta starting taking new roots. Encouraged by former Prime Minister José María Aznar’s ousted People’s Party and backed by newspaper columnists and right-wing radio shows, again started producing evidences to claim that the Islamists who planted the bombs plotted with ETA. In fact ETA had been suspected of making plans of attacking Madrid. They had even tried to bomb trains and were all the time ready to use mobile phones to set bombs off.
It had even planned to bomb ski resort used by King Juan Carlos. The advocators of this theory even considered that there are connections between ETA the explosives traffickers and Asturias. But few experts contradict this theory on the ground that it is an attempt by the People’s Party to give credence to the party and save the party’s reputation. (Observer, November 2004).
The evidences even point out the incidents to be the work of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.More then dozen people were taken into custody including 10 from Morocco, two were Indians, two Spaniards and one of Syrian Origin but the arrests of five men after the two days of the blasts became the concrete evidence highlighting the Islamic militants behind the attack. Even, Abu Dujan al-Afgani who identified himself as al-Qaida’s military spokesman in Europe declared himself as a man for targeting the trains in videotape. But there was no record of him with intelligence services.
Yet another group, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which too was linked to Al-Qaida, claimed responsibility by sending the statements to a London-based Arab Newspaper which read, “Praise be to God who granted us the victory of Madrid and destroyed one of the pillars of the evil Crusader axis…”(BBC News, 2004)The group also reported to have given warning that it’s “brigades of death” could strike at Japan, the US, Italy, Britain, Saudi Arabia or Australia.
Over and above the main reason cited for it’s alleged involvement was the support by Spain to America on its invasion on Iraq. Spain sent 1300 troops to America, which the incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero later pledged to withdraw. On 11th April 2006, Judge Del Olmo charged 29 suspects for their alleged involvement on the bomb attacks. Among the indicted was the GICM leader Hassan al-Haski.
According to Judge Del Olmo, “Local cells of Islamic extremists belonging to harsh traffickers of Moroccan origin, remotely linked to Al Qaida cell already captured could have bought the dynamite Goma-2 ECO from low-level thieves in Asturias, North of Spain.” According to the honorable Judge Olmo, “The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), are “the main agent of the Salafist Jihadist movement” in Spain, who masterminded the 2004 Madrid train attacks. Further in his judgment he said that there are two large networks all linked to the GICM.These bombings gave a new twist to the political scene.
With the elections began to start just after three days, there were continuous accusations by the opposition parties citing the political motive behind the attacks. On one hand, José María Aznar was opposing for any dialogue with ETA, her agenda in his elections manifesto was the “Threat of Terrorism” and on the other hand, his friendship with U.S. president George W.
Bush and his support to America in the invasion on Iraq was against the will of the population that resulted in the biggest demonstrations beginning from 12th March which was never seen in Spain since the restoration of democracy in the late 1970’s. This led Aznar in a very perplexing situation. If Basque terrorists were proved to be behind the attacks then it would favor the PP’s campaign and if an Islamic group appeared to cause the blast, then people might blame him for the danger from Islamic Jehadis. Spaniards took to streets protesting against the bombings in a government-organized demonstration to condemn ETA, who was being blamed for the attacks.
The maximum demonstration took place on the streets of Vigo, which has a population of 300,000 inhabitants including members of the leading political parties that marched together towards Madrid’s Paseo de Castellana showing solidarity against the attacks. However, the official rally which took place in Barcelona, with all political parties besides scuffles between demonstrators forced the Spain’s Economy Minister and Vice President Rodrigo Rato and Josep Piqué, president of the Partido Popular de Catalunya, to be removed from office.The elections saw the Socialist Party (PSOE) coming to power. And just days after the incoming PSOE Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero came to power, they announced that Spain would withdraw its troops from Iraq.
After coming to power, Zapatero’s government showed no sign of any fundamental difference with the policies of the right-wing. Through the Commission of Inquiry, the PSOE tires to rectify the damage done by the predecessors. El Paise Newspaper, a mouth piece of PSOE adamantly declared to follow on the same lines of the Whitewash Commission into the September 11 bombings, and no investigations should be carried out on the allegations of criminal conspiracy by the PP government.The most explosive discovery that emerged before the commission was the reports that were leaked to El Pais from Madrid’s Anti-Terrorist Brigade.
The internal reports depicted the way the perpetrators of the bombings were put under direct surveillance since February 2003 and this surveillance continued for two weeks before the bomb blasts. This unit had photographed the suspects, tapped their telephones and even monitored their homes. And one of them was Sharhane Ben Abdel Majid Fakhet, leader of the group that carried out the bombings, and Jamal Zougam arrested for placing the bombs on the train. According to the report, the unit was removed from the case immediately before the bombings and was shifted to provide security for the wedding of Crown Prince Felipe to ex-TV anchorwoman Letizia Ortiz in May.
This gave Al Qaida, free reign in Madrid. Still PSOE was not disclosing the activities of PP and continued to cover the party.On 1st July, the PSOE government even refused to release the reports requested by the commissioners, including a 150-page report on the investigations conducted between11th March to 57th April. This report had the details telling about the immediate actions which were taken and the decisions that were made after the blast.
But the reports that were released clearly mentioned about the warnings that the Al Qaida was targeting at the Spain (Stuart, Bond, 2004).Whether attacks in WTC or in Spain or anywhere else, it has made the world realize that the terrorism cannot be overcome by any military action whatsoever. Immediately after the WTC attacks the conclusion was made that it was sheer due to the dominance of the US military that has made potential opponents turn to what is sometimes called “asymmetric warfare” i.e.
, the attacks whereby the other has full chance to inflict damage. The 9/11 attacks and previous ones were basically the attacks, were attacks on hard targets, requiring suicide bombers and, in the case of 9/11, a highly sophisticated operation and were politically significant; but after the Afghanistan war the trend changed towards the soft targets. The first major attack was made on November 2002 at Bali nightclub killing nearly 200. Thus it is quite true that more military power is bound to lead to more terrorists attacks.
It is continuing now and it will be bound to continue tomorrow also. (Mahajan, 2004).American analysts consider that the electorate’s response to the station bombings was a major setback in their global war on terror. But according to the common perception this setback was minor as the mere 1300 troops are just the symbolic.
Yet the killing of the people aroused not just the Spanish to the reality of the Islamist threat but many others in Europe.The extreme polarisation and the deep cleavage between the Partido Popular (PP) and the Partido Socialista (PSOE) in this extreme security crisis provoked a national trauma that general elections and the new majority have not yet improved one year later.The Secretary-General, in his address In an International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held in Madrid in March 2005, “The Secretary General declared that terrorism is a threat to all States and to all peoples and that the United Nations must be at the forefront in fighting against it.” The 2005 World Summit condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and acknowledged an important role that has been played by the United Nations in combating it.
The Document urged the United Nations to assist States for taking concrete steps and building full capacity in a national and regional level. The basic elements of a comprehensive United Nations counter-terrorism strategy were reflected in the Outcome document in following five D’s :· to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism as a tactic to achieve their goals;· to deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks;· to deter States from supporting terrorists;· to develop State capacity to prevent terrorism; and· to defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism.(UN, Terrorism and Disarmament, The role of the Department for Disarmament Affairs);References:1. Bailey Dominic, BBC News Online, Madrid, (2004), Spain awakes to socialist realityreferred on December 8, 2006 from http://news.
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uk/2/hi/europe/3523804.stm4. FRONTLINE, Al Qaida’s New Front, referred on Dec 8, 2006 fromhttp://www.pbs.
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pl?sid=04/11/23/14572026. Harter Pascale, BBC correspondent in Morocco, 2004, Morocco’s shock at Madrid bomb ‘link’ referred on December 8, 2006 from http://news.bbc.co.
uk/2/hi/europe/3519816.stm7. Hutchinson Bill, Daily News Staff Reporter, 2004, Eye Al Qaida & Basque groups in 10 blasts referred on December 8, 2006 from http://www.nydailynews.
com/front/story/172805p-150612c.html8. Inter Press Service, 2004, Spanish Reporters: Government Silenced the Truth About the Attacks referred on December 8, 2006 from http://www.commondreams.
org/headlines04/0318-10.htm9. MacAskill Ewen and Norton Richard-Taylor, 2004, The Guardian, From Bali to Madrid-attackers seek to inflict ever-greater casualties, referred on December 8, 2006 fromhttp://www.guardian.
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cfm?SectionID=40;ItemID=514211. New York Daily News, Ideas ; Opinions, World War III strikes Spain referred on December 8, 2006from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/172599p-150467c.
html12. Olmeda A. Jose, , 2006, Fear Or Falsehood ? Framing The 3/11 Terrorist Attacks And ElectoralAccountability (WP) referred on December 8,2006 fromhttp://www.realinstitutoelcano.
org/documentos/195.asp13. Reference was made on December 8,2006 from http://judicial-inc.biz/Madrid.
htm14. Reynolds Paul, BBC News Online world affairs correspondent, 2004, Europe: Facing up to al-Qaida reality, referred on December 8, 2006 from http://news.bbc.co.
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