SPAIN - Ten co-ordinated bombings, set off by remote control, have occured in
the Madrid rail system near the Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia stations. The bombs were hidden in backpacks along the rail system. Reports are
still coming in, with at least 200 people reported dead, including babies and children, and 1,500 injured. More than 600 people were injured in two
blasts at the Atocha station alone. The numbers of dead and injured are both expected to rise throughout the day. This is the deadliest terror
attack in a European city since WWII.
Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack in a message to London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
The letter of responsibility, which was emailed to the newspaper office, was signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, a known Al Qaeda group. The
Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper is their standard means of communication, having used the same newspaper to claim past attacks. The group is named after
Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, who was killed in the Tora Bora battle in Afghanistan in 2001. Newspaper editor Bari Atwan says he is "certain"
the claim is authentic.
"The death squad succeeded in penetrating the crusader European depths and striking one of the pillars of the crusader alliance - Spain - with a
The letter also claims a large-scale attack on US soil is "90%" ready.
"We bring the good news to Muslims of the world that the expected 'Winds of Black Death' strike against America is now in its final stage...90
percent (ready) and God willing near," the letter said.
In an audio tape released in October, a voice said to be that of Osama bin Laden said, "We reserve the right to respond at the appropriate time and
place against all the countries participating in this unjust war, particularly Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan and Italy,"
According to the Interior Ministry, investigators are now following the possible Al Qaeda link in addition to suspected ETA involvement.
Eight bomb detonators and "Arabic tapes" about Koranic teachings were found in a van near the blast sites, according to the Spanish Interior
Ministry. The tapes did not contain any threats, and are commercially availible. There has been speculation by terror experts that many aspects of
this attack do not match up with normal actions by terror group ETA, such as advance warning and immediate claims. Also, ETA is known to target
individuals or small groups rather than large co-ordinated attacks with tremendous loss of life such as this. Their deadliest attack numbered 21
fatalities in a supermarket bombing in Barcelona in 1987.
ETA spokespersons have distanced themselves from the attack. The leader of the Basque political party, Arnaldo Otegi, said, "What we want to make
absolutely clear is that the Basque nationalist left do not even contemplate the possibility that ETA was behind what happened today in Madrid. What
we can make absolutely clear is that in neither the objective nor the modus operandi can it be said that ETA was behind this."
The bombings occured almost simultaneously beginning at 7:39 AM local time and lasting approximately 15 minutes. Thirteen bombs in total were
involved; three were destroyed in controlled detonations and resulted in no injury.
Plans for a massive rally are underway in Madrid as officials call for citizens to march along with the Prime Minister and the King in a show of
solidarity. More than one million people are expected to be present.
Additional News Reports:
Mail & Guardian
[Edited on 14-3-2004 by SkepticOverlord]