Al-Qaeda behind Madrid massacre?
Evidence indicates that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks in Madrid, or someone trying to look like al-Qaeda, (it's too early to tell these apart). In an e-mail al-Qaeda has supposedly taken responsibility for the attack, and Spanish police has found detonators and a tape with recordings from the Koran in a van. The scale, the coordination, the date - 9/11 + 6 months, or 9/11/01 + 911 + 1 days - much points to al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda imposter.
One piece of evidence I've only seen mentioned in Norway is a document a terrorist research group at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment found on an Islamist website. The document surveys strategies for forcing the coalition out of Iraq. It mentions Spain as a convenient target, and the election this week as a convenient time to carry it out:
The research group regularly gathers information which appears on Islamist website on the Internet, but doesn't have time to go through everything in detail. After the attack in Madrid yesterday, they did a search on "Spain" in the documents they have gathered, and made an interesting discovery. ..
The document refers to attacks on Spanish forces in Iraq, not Spanish civilians in Spain, but the logic is the same wherever the attacks are carried out: Attack America's allies until one of them breaks. Any crack in the coalition will be an important propaganda victory, and increase the likelihood of more cracks. It's a rational tactic, aimed specifically at those forces who are looking for excuses to pull out of Iraq. In Norway these forces are represented by the Centre Party and the Socialist Left. Attacks on European forces in Iraq, as this document proposes, may be more successful than attacks in Europe itself, but then again they may not, and the terrorist is always biased towards random, spectacular violence.
The message is: This is the price you pay for helping the Americans. That is a message many Europeans will listen to. The question is how many there are of them. Terrorism always turns some people against you, but it also turns other people towards your preferred point of view, and the terrorists are counting on more Europeans of the latter than the former kind. That preferred point of view is not approval of terrorism or support of the terrorists' goal. All that's required is for many Spaniards to reach the conclusion that the price is too high, and who are they to risk their lives for some insane American imperialist adventure? European anti-Americanism is a powerful tool in the hands of skilled propagandists. I don't have al-Qaeda's belief in the power of random slaughter, but I'm not confident that they're wrong about how Europeans will react, especially if they manage to make a campaign out of this. (Another bomb failed to go off earlier today.) Everyone will claim to stand united against terrorism. Everyone always does. But there's "yes we stand united against terrorism in all forms" and then there's "yes we stand united against terrorism in all forms, but what are we doing in Iraq anyway, and haven't we brought this on ourselves by aligning ourselves with the insane policies of the Bush administration?"
That is the real test here. Will we settle for the usual condemnations of terrorism, then continue as before, apologizing for, understanding and downplaying the threat of Islamic terrorism, while we reserve our true outrage for the Americans and Israelis, or will we update our maps to reflect the post-9/11 terrain? Words of sympathy are not enough. Al-Qaeda counts on sympathy to increase our fear that we're next in line. Anger is actually more appropriate. It's the ingredient we've been missing these last years, for while we always condemn terrorists attacks and show sympathy for their victims, we never really get angry with the monsters who are behind it. I noticed that prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik described yesterday's attack as an example of "evil" on TV2, using a word (ondskap) that is quite strong, (big-E evil). That may be a good sign, and I'll be watching for more.
Gard L. Aabakken, Bergen(OSLO IN MY HEART) | 2004-03-12 17:00 | Link
I really hope this tragic incident will encourage europeans to join forces with the americans, in stead of further alienation. Sadly, I do not trust such a development to happen.
As you mentioned, the absence of further terrorist attacks on american soil post 9/11, suggests that they clearly are on the right track (though a troubbeling message of "winds of death" were posted in the alledged AL-qaeda fax) - we should learn from them:
The War against terror is NOT Bush` fight, not even Americas fight. It is humanitys fight, and europeans better get used to the idea.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-12 18:50 | Link
Starting to look more like the ETA.
These guys were HEAVY into explosives. HispaLibertas is posting at Blair's place for awhile.
Latest off of Iberian Notes:
According to TV 3, the Corriere della Sera is reporting that a group of some 80 Basque terrorists made their way to Iraq after May 20, 2003, in order to join the Saddamite resistance. Most of them have left, but some have stayed under the cover of NGO workers. Two of them were those arrested in Cuenca with more than 500 kilos of explosives. If this is true, and I want to see a lot of evidence that it is before I believe it, then ETA is a full member, and one in good standing, of the Terror International.
Rantburg's following it, too. As always, chockful of bloggy goodness IF you have the stomach for it.
Susan | 2004-03-12 19:48 | Link
I agree with Gard and Bjorn. The Madrid bombings will have their desired effect on the European consciousness.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-03-12 23:50 | Link
Bjorn, you said: " . . . or will we update our maps to reflect the post-9/11 terrain? Words of sympathy are not enough."
I believe that this terrible event in Madrid will change many European minds about the need to pursue the War on Terror (War on Islamofascism) in a serious way.
It's human nature to feel differently about attacks on one's own people compared to attacks on foreigners. As an American, I can say that I never paid much attention to terrorist attacks in Europe. But the 9-11 attacks had such an effect on me that my political views have swung almost 180 degrees since that date. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this response.
John Ø. Welle, Norway | 2004-03-13 00:36 | Link
It is difficult at this early stage, no culprit established, to speculate whether opinion will shift towards a more sympathetic view on the war on terror, or towards more sceptisism, (Oh, those spaniards had it coming, what with supporting those eeeevil americans!) but I think Aftenpostens editorial today on the subject shows promising signs:
"Regardless of what answers the future will tell [culprit], the bombs in Madrid tells us that the political and military fight against terrorism must be continued with sharpened vigilance, strengthened effort, and an even tighter cooperation between states - and across the Atlantic. This time it's the Spanish democracy that's been attacked. This deserves broad support in something that's a new form of war. Because violence that strikes blindly, can strike us all."
Quite strong language for being a Norwegian newspaper. A bit funny they would call this attack ".. a new form of war", but still..
Sandy P. | 2004-03-13 02:24 | Link
Well, LGF has this from October 2001:
The Basque terrorist organization ETA and bin Laden’s al-Qaeda cells have joined forces. Their shared goal: to organize and carry out an attack on the EU meeting scheduled for March 2002 in Barcelona, according to two Spanish publications, Tiempo and El Mundo.
According to the reports, which have been confirmed by Italian and French media, representatives of the two terrorist organizations have already met together three times in Brussels in December 2000; in Malaga, Spain in February 2001; and in Barcelona last July....
Story goes on to tell what was planned and how the attacks were stopped.
Charles is a democrat, not Jewish, Californian, musician, creative and in no way a Bush supporter, but 9/11 came and he does not support the Palestinians. Some of the pics posted on his site will attest to that. Of course, that also goes for the UN,(& after the oil-for-palaces program and Kofi's son possibly involved, I don't know how the Europeans can trust such a cesspool, either) phrawnce & its contracts, and the NGOs amongst others, so that site might not be for some of Bjorn's readers.
You can still check out 9/10 and prior archives, I believe to get a flavor pre 9/11.
After yesterday, parts of Europe just might understand the attitude change in America. Especially if ETA & AQ are working together. The IRA's branching out, I don't understand why it's not so hard to believe the others will, too.
Clem Snide | 2004-03-13 14:28 | Link
No, I doubt it's a sign of a new attitude, just a sign of short memories. Remember the "We are all Americans now" editorials after Sept 11? Remember the Oslo Accords? I wonder if most Europeans are capable of learning from experience anymore.
kristian hovborg | 2004-03-14 00:06 | Link
I am an ashamed European. i have for over 1o years mentionned the evil of Islam, yet, people called me evil, bastard......
Reid of America | 2004-03-14 00:54 | Link
I believe the Spanish deserve a dose of their own medicine. Whenever the Palestinians commit a terrorist atrocity against Israeli civilians there is the standard denunciation of the attack followed by the standard call for a Palestinian state to solve the cause of the attack.
When is Spain going to address the cause of the attack? These attacks will continue until the occupation of Basque land ends. And furthermore, these attacks will continue until the Spain ends it's Christian occupation of Andulusia and Granada. Osama Bin Laden was very specific in his condemnation of Spain for it's conquest and occupation of Muslim lands. Between the Basque lands in the north and the Muslim lands of Andulusia and Granada, Spain is an illegitimate nation.
I hope the paragraph I have just written has made Spanish blood boil. I don't for a second agree with what I have just written. But I hope it gives Spainiards an idea of how they sound to Israel and Jews throughout the world when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian terrorism. Recall the radical chic protestors marching with suicide belts in Madrid last year protesting against the war in Iraq. And recall the EU ambassador Moratanos from Spain who routinely castigates Israel for responding to terror bombings.
Adrian Warnock's UK Blog | 2004-03-14 01:30 | Link
There is no doubt in my mind that an awakening in Europe is likely. I have written more on this in my blog.
In particular the amazing solidarity of the Spanish people has really moved me.
I am also convinced that this is not the work of ETA- there have now been arrests in Spain.
Jeremy Reaban | 2004-03-14 02:22 | Link
I think once that it's clear that ETA wasn't responsible, the Spanish public will already start blaming the US, and Aznar for supporting the US.
It's already happening. And the Socialist party is crying cover up, and the Spanish public seems to be buying it.
I'd like to believe otherwise, but I've known too many Spaniards.
JK, California | 2004-03-14 03:08 | Link
Cover up. That's rich. Basically these people are saying to their government "if you knew it was the Islamists how come you haven't given in to them already?"
They will learn eventually, but as in WWII the left suspends its illusions only with its back against the wall and after the best defensive opportunities have been allowed to slide over the dam.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-14 03:33 | Link
Also via LGF:
Norwegian researchers have uncovered further evidence of an Islamic connection: Possible al-Qaida Link Found in Attack.
Experts from the government’s Norwegian Defense Research Establishment said the documents found on an Arabic-language Web site last year suggest Spain as a possible terror target because the country had been part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
“We must make maximum use of the proximity to the elections in Spain in March next year. Spain can stand a maximum of two or three attacks before they will withdraw from Iraq,” the documents said, according to daily newspaper VG. ...
Tomorrow will tell if AQ's pegged them correctly. They were wrong about US.
IXLNXS | 2004-03-14 04:06 | Link
Many of the Spanish demonstrations involve people carrying signs that say "Peace", and "Lies".
They seem to think their leaders are lying to them.
Kinda like over 50 percent of Americans believe the same thing about their leaders.
Shit we already got something in comman besides being bombed.
Rafael Robert Delfin | 2004-03-14 04:52 | Link
• The horrific train explosions in Madrid on 3/11 killed nearly 200 people and wounded over a thousand more. Some fingers are pointing at the Basque separatist group, ETA, and some at Al-Qaeda. Spanish authorites have detained three Moroccans and two Indians connected with the bombings; they have also received a videotaped message showing a man declaring, in Arabic, that the Madrid tragedy is a response to Spain's "collaboration with the criminals Bush and his allies."
lindseyrodham, virginia | 2004-03-14 07:52 | Link
"As a vegan and an animal rights activist, I find it very perplexing as to how the Spaniards - supposedly a civilized and progressive people - consider bullfighting as a "sport" or a "fight" when in fact the bull's fate is already sealed from the beginning."
Iirc, the bull's fate is not sealed from the beginning. I've read that bulls who perform well can win their freedom. As well, I've been told that the meat from the animal is given to the poor. So, no, I don't consider bullfighting barbaric.
If you open your mouth you'll discover you have the teeth of an omnivore, which means you are supposed to eat animal and vegetable.
lindseyrodham, virginia | 2004-03-14 07:54 | Link
"Kinda like over 50 percent of Americans believe the same thing about their leaders."
This number is far under 50 percent.
Tim Worstall, Portugal | 2004-03-14 12:17 | Link
Now that it does appear to be Al Q that is responsible : and that it is, perhaps , about the Spanish support to the coalition in Iraq : here's an idea for whoever wins today's election in Spain.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-03-14 12:49 | Link
I know this isn't very on topic, but since someone else already has brought it in, I'll pitch in with a gallon of gasoline
Mr Delfin wrote: "But there are certain Spanish traditions that continue to appall me, especially those that involve the abuse of animals such as bullfighting. As a vegan and an animal rights activist, I find it very perplexing as to how the Spaniards - supposedly a civilized and progressive people - consider bullfighting as a "sport" or a "fight" when in fact the bull's fate is already sealed from the beginning."
Okay, you said it yourself - "As a vegan and animal rights activist" - in other words, one of those people that think eating meat is wrong - while other of us are People Eating Tasty Animals - and will continue to be so. If you think bullfighting is barbaric, I'm sure you don't like the innuits which hunt whales (or us norwegians - whos fellow countrymen also hunt whales - tasty meat, btw)
I'm also quite sure (without you saying it, but it goes without saying) that you are one of those who don't like fur. People has used fur for clothing for millenias. You on the other hand, seem to think "going veggie" is the solution. But I'll tell you something - you're one out a few. Most people isn't - and doesn't want to be "adapted" into being a herbivore which doesn't eat meat, nor exploits the animals of this earth.
Okay, gasoline pitched in, not very relevant for the debate, surely breaking rules number two and three in this blog, but what the heck.
Ali Dashti | 2004-03-14 13:27 | Link
Well, at least I hope this massacre can finally open the eyes of Europeans to the grave danger posed by Islamic fundamentalism. We have been discussing this over at http://www.faithfreedom.org/ , the most important website of ex-muslims on the internet. Let us hope all those people didn't die in vain.
Dean Douthat | 2004-03-14 22:17 | Link
It looks like Spain has just handed out via its election a proof that terrorism works.
Rewarded behavior tends to repeat.
Richard Heddleson | 2004-03-14 22:37 | Link
This means the end of October may be a very dangerous time. I hope Al-Q knows it would backfire here.
JK, California | 2004-03-15 00:03 | Link
As a disaster for the world's democracies, this historic election result in Spain is on a par with the vote in the British Oxford Union in the 1930's which went against fighting under any circumstances to defend 'King and Country'. It simply advertises 'we are a pushover'.
The folly Winston Churchill derided throughout that period, as European democracies' craven behavior time and again contributed to their totalitarian enemies' prestige and strength, almost incredibly now walks the earth again.
I bet the Islamists can hardly believe their good fortune.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-15 00:30 | Link
Well, AQ certainly knows parts of Europe.
That document was spot-on.
Well, Bjorn, do I have egg on my face, and not the first time. Sorry!
And I'll join in to the slightly OT:
Remember, March 15 is eat an animal for PETA day!
| 2004-03-15 00:31 | Link
--That is the real test here. Will we settle for the usual condemnations of terrorism, then continue as before, apologizing for, understanding and downplaying the threat of Islamic terrorism, while we reserve our true outrage for the Americans and Israelis, or will we update our maps to reflect the post-9/11 terrain?--
YUP! Even better, now al Guardian wants to jaw-jaw.
Oh, yeah, that'll work.
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-03-21 08:21 | Link
I have been very busy lately, and have not been keeping up with this blog or my own webpages. The events in Madrid brought me back.
I have just written a piece on my blog referring back to this blog entry:
Thanks for the interesting information Bjorn.
Rafael Robert Delfin | 2004-04-24 22:54 | Link
To Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo who wrote the following:
"I'm also quite sure (without you saying it, but it goes without saying) that you are one of those who don't like fur. People has used fur for clothing for millenias. You on the other hand, seem to think "going veggie" is the solution. But I'll tell you something - you're one out a few. Most people isn't - and doesn't want to be "adapted" into being a herbivore which doesn't eat meat, nor exploits the animals of this earth."
My reply: There are many warm clothing now available made out synthetic fiber that is cheaper, better and warmer, so there's really no need for. There are also tons of meat alternatives available that are also more nutritious, healthier, cheaper and friendlier to the environment. Sad to say, but people who continue to wear fur and continue to eat meat, despite the fact that it is NO LONGER NECESSARY (no one can die from not eating any meat), are people who cannot take challenge or hate progress. Vegetarians? Few? Please! What about the half a billion vegetarian Hindus and Buddhists???!!!
Johnathan | 2004-06-25 12:37 | Link
They will learn eventually, but as in WWII the left suspends its illusions only with its back against the wall and after the best defensive opportunities have been allowed to slide over the dam...
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