March 12, 2004


Well, I guess this makes it official:

The United Nations Security Council voted late yesterday to blame Basque militants from the ETA group for the attacks.

The UN may have acted in haste:

The Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said Thursday that it had received a claim of responsibility for the Madrid train bombings issued in the name of al-Qaida.

The five-page e-mail claim, signed by the shadowy Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, was received at the paper's London offices. It said the brigade's "death squad" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain."

"This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said.

Not that this claim is instantly believeable, either:

The claim by the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri could not immediately be given full credence. Its claim last year to have been responsible for the widespread power blackout in the Northeast and Canada last Aug. 14 was discredited.

The death toll is now 192, with more than 1200 injured, 44 of them critically.

UPDATE. Juan Ramón Rallo writes:

To the international mass media, ETA is not a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group but a "Basque separatist group". The magnitude of the 3-11 attack has not changed their narrow sighted style.

This is particularly poignant in the case of the US media. After Spain's support of the American war in Iraq, the coverage by American media is still worthy of a band of ignorants who keep scorning this Spanish bleeding tragedy.

Thus, to try to stop such indecency, I have sent the following brief email to Fox News and CNN. Let's fill their inboxes with our anti-collaborationist clamour!

Juan’s email follows:

I want to express you my most strongest complaint for your horrible coverage of the massacre in Madrid. You name ETA "Basque separatists group". That's awfull and infamous. ETA is a terrorist group, as it is recognized as such by all international institutions and developed nations, among them,the USA.

Do you think we should call Al-Qaeda "the resistance"? Has Spain been with the USA and UK in its struggle against international terrorism to deserve that kind of insult?

I am very disappointed by this dishonest style. It is just miserable.

Juan Ramón Rallo
From Spain

(Via Samizdata)

UPDATE II. Kevin Drum asks:

If it does turn out to be al-Qaeda, I wonder how that will change things? It's been something of an article of faith in America that if 9/11 had happened in Europe there wouldn't have been so much resistance there to the Iraq war. These train bombings aren't 9/11, of course, but they're plenty bad. Will it affect European opinion much about America's approach to fighting terrorism?

UPDATE III. Iberian Notes is all over this. Bookmark it. And check out EURSOC.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 12, 2004 12:26 PM

Hmmm. Wonder how long it will take some gutless wonder - probably in the op ed pages of The Age or Herald - to opine that this "proves" Spain was wrong to be a member of the Coalition of the Willing.

Posted by: The Mongrel at March 12, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Maybe the towels on these fuckers heads are making it hard for them to hear. This isn't a war against your backwards religion. It's a war against extremists intent on destroying western civilisation. Iraq was run by a secular dictator. Afghanistan was harbouring and protecting a man who masterminded the saddest moment in American history.

Posted by: anon at March 12, 2004 at 12:34 PM

Mongrel: By tomorrow. Bet on it.

Posted by: superboot at March 12, 2004 at 12:37 PM

I would guess that on a percentage of population basis for the respective countries this bombing is not far off of 9/11, just as Bali was on that measure for Australia

Posted by: Me at March 12, 2004 at 12:52 PM

this attack bears all the hallmarks of AQ.

the history of ETA is to target and kill slected government officials on both sides of politics.

They usually give a warning and then immediately take credit.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at March 12, 2004 at 01:02 PM
It's been something of an article of faith in America that if 9/11 had happened in Europe there wouldn't have been so much resistance there to the Iraq war.
In my opinion, Kevin Drum is out of his mind. I've never heard of this "article of faith" vis a vis euro-support on Iraq.

Now what I have heard is that if Russian, French and Germany politicians hadn't been bought and sold by Saddam Hussein...

Well, Drum is an uber-lib ... I'll consider the source.

Posted by: Dwayne at March 12, 2004 at 01:06 PM

I watched the French news channel we receive here in New Jersey tonight and there seemed to be no question as to who was responsible. They spent the entire program reporting on ETA. Al Qeada was never mentioned. The Spanish government blames ETA. Why would the Europeans want to deny the possiblity that Islamic facists did this?

Is Aznar reluctant to suggest Al Qaeda because of the anti-war feelings in Spain? Blow back is a political bitch.

Or coming to terms with an Al Qaeda act in Europe means that Bush was right about the scope of the War on Terror?

Posted by: Stacys at March 12, 2004 at 01:08 PM

I wonder if the Eurosnots will now start asking themselves "what did we do to deserve this?" as they suggested the Americans do after 9/11?
All power to the Spaniards--they've been right up there with the U.S., Britain and Australia fighting these murderous bastards.
My deepest sympathies to any Spanish people reading Tim's blog.

Posted by: Keith at March 12, 2004 at 01:09 PM

My biggest worry is that European countries will point to this as an example of why not to help the US fight terrorism. I've seen no evidence to suggest that they will take any other route.
In fact, I'm sure the media will be filled with articles/editorials blaming the US for the Madrid bombings (God what a terrible day 3/11 is).

The more I look at the state of affiars, the more 9/11 looks like the beginning of WW3. I wonder where all the pieces will line up?

Posted by: SRD at March 12, 2004 at 01:17 PM

Perhaps the goals of both the ETA and Al-Qaeda have converged for a time and they are acting together? Or at least, helping each other out a bit? This war we're in has created some very strange, to me, bedfellows.

Juan Ramón Rallo:

"After Spain's support of the American war in Iraq, the coverage by American media is still worthy of a band of ignorants who keep scorning this Spanish bleeding tragedy."

You have my sympathies. Please understand the American media is also very unsupportive of what the US is trying to do as we wage the war on terror. It isn't so much that you guys are Spanish, it's that our media has problems identifying terrorists correctly.

What you read in the American media doesn't necessarily reflect what Americans, or our leaders, think. I generally ignore most of our media because I get tired of having my news digested and fed to me.

It helps to understand our media when you realize they are a bit adrift when something bad happens and they can't automatically blame it on the US, Bush and/or Israel.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at March 12, 2004 at 01:18 PM


Yes, one can already see the facist, appeasing, anti-intellectual, moral cowards of the left lining up to blame the victims for the Madrid atrocities.

What is is with these twits? Have they no moral compass whatsoever?

They seem to live a world where so-called sins of thought such as 'racism, 'sexism'and'homophobia'(whatever these stupid terms mean) are somehow greater crimes than murder and where anyone who takes action against a murderer is immediately more evil than the murderer. Accordingly, your typical lefty commentator ad fellow traveller will happily dream up a hundred reasons why we should pardon the actions of a murderer, whilst campaigning for the sternest of measures to be taken against someone who commits a thought crime.

Posted by: Toryhere at March 12, 2004 at 01:30 PM

Read what Iraq the Model has to say about it. Good stuff.

Whatever the letter turns out to be, there was a van found nearby with detonator fuses in it and audiotapes of the Koran in Arabic.

Posted by: Donnah at March 12, 2004 at 01:36 PM

"Hmmm. Wonder how long it will take some gutless wonder - probably in the op ed pages of The Age or Herald - to opine that this "proves" Spain was wrong to be a member of the Coalition of the Willing."

The Mongrel might be right, of course. Or maybe not. But at least he's made sure he's the first to turn this disaster to suit his own political outlook.

Care to spit any harder on these too fresh graves, matey?

Posted by: Nemesis at March 12, 2004 at 01:38 PM

The current Spanish government has been successful in arresting a large number of ETA members. If those arrested include the ETA's leadership, then the ETA would now be under the control of a new leadership, who might be willing to do things differently - which would explain the different M.O. in this attack.

Posted by: Tim Shell at March 12, 2004 at 01:39 PM

Mongrel, Superboot, et al;

Isn't it weird that in the midst of a vicious and unmitigated act of evil one just knows that some son-of-a bitch will utter something so appallingly inappropriate? And that the media will give them a platform to do so?

Driving home tonight, I heard some twat on NPR (US) smugly saying, "Well, there's a price to be paid for supporting the war on terror".

His tone was dripping with contempt for the Spanish authorities who have acted so bravely and willingly to aid in civilization's fight with barbarism. Had I been able to touch him, I'd have broken his back. It makes me angry that these apologists for butchery can make me so angry.

Viva Espana/Hang in there, amigos.

Posted by: JDB at March 12, 2004 at 01:45 PM

Needless to say, the ABC refers to ETA as the Basque 'separatists", not terrorists.

Posted by: Max at March 12, 2004 at 01:49 PM

"Care to spit any harder on these too fresh graves, matey?"

Give us time, Nemmie: it takes a lot of milk to help one of us hork up as big a loogie as you just deposited.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 12, 2004 at 01:50 PM

Leave it to gullible and logic-challenged Nemesis to make a stupid equivalency argument. Sure, pointing out how some are going to exploit the attack for their political gain by writing snide op-eds about "what it 'really' means" is exactly the same as actually doing it oneself. Yep, absolutely. Can't argue with that, nope.

By that logic, congrats to Nemmy for following right in the footsteps of the person he criticized, with that tasteless remark about spitting on people's graves.

Posted by: PW at March 12, 2004 at 01:58 PM


"Care to spit any harder on these too fresh graves, matey?"

Not as long as you're still dancing on them, asshole.

Posted by: david at March 12, 2004 at 02:08 PM

Speak for yourself, Nemesis. Yours is the side that spewed nonsense about America being at fault for the 9/11 attacks. You dare criticize anyone else for spitting on graves? Hypocrite.

Posted by: Big Dog at March 12, 2004 at 02:16 PM

Given that this dramatically reinforces what Bush has been saying about the war continuing, and pulls the rug out from under the "everythings fine, the wars over, move along" crew who have been desperately trying to downplay the importance of the war on terror, I wonder how long before the kooks start insinuating that it was a plot by Bush to help his re-election chances?

Posted by: Michael 2 at March 12, 2004 at 02:17 PM

Anybody been by DU lately?

Posted by: Big Dog at March 12, 2004 at 02:19 PM

This incident makes the cover story of the latest spectator magazine look rather premature as well - it is basically an attack on blair for whipping up hysteria about terrorism for his own political ends, and argues that there isnt really that much to worry about.
If this was ETA, then the argument holds a tiny amount of water, if it was al queada or similar, then it looks thoroughly ludicrous

Posted by: Paul Dub at March 12, 2004 at 02:45 PM

At DU they think Aznar blew up the trains.

Posted by: Donnah at March 12, 2004 at 02:50 PM

If it's Al Qaeda, taking the French option in the Gulf War would not necessarily have spared Spain. The apparent letter from Al Qaeda refers to an "old settling of scores" with Crusader Spain (as well as Spain's Gulf War alliance with the US). Bin Laden himself has spoken of an old score with Spain: the 15th century expulsion of the Moors. In the same way, Bin Laden's obsession with Baghdad or for that matter Istanbul has as much to do with those cities being old seats of Islamic power as with any current events there.

Posted by: Pepe at March 12, 2004 at 02:51 PM

I sent Tim and all Australians my condolences after the Bali bombings. I send the same sad regards to the Spanish people now. They have stood bravely by the United States since 9-11, putting their lives, money and reputation on the line. It is this type of friend one does not forget. May the demonstrations Friday show whoever is responsible that their evil "tactic" has backfired. Death to those who would murder civlians in any cause.

We must not forget that they do not want something from us, they want to eliminate us.

Posted by: justamom at March 12, 2004 at 03:16 PM

The apparent letter from Al Qaeda refers to an "old settling of scores" with Crusader Spain (as well as Spain's Gulf War alliance with the US). Bin Laden himself has spoken of an old score with Spain: the 15th century expulsion of the Moors.

Yup, one of Bin Laden's main peeves, along with "crusader troops in the holy lands" is the reconquest of Andalucia.

Posted by: Quentin George at March 12, 2004 at 03:33 PM

Its a good thing "crusadeR" Christian countries don't hold Bin-Laden-style grudges.

Lets see, countries that were once Christian but conquered by Muslims...

Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morroco, Libya, Algeria...

Posted by: Quentin George at March 12, 2004 at 03:35 PM

Have a look at the first two articles on the most recent on-line edition of The Spectator. Be interesting to get thye opinions of the two authors now.

Just last week a guy I work with, nice guy and I consider him a friend, asked me what I thought we, as in the West, should do about terrorism, the Mid-East etc. He wouldn't accept my solution - Hunt them down and kill them. He thought there had to be another way. So far no recommendations on a better solution.

Aussie advice to Spanish military and police forces - hunt them down and kill them. Good hunting.

Posted by: Razor at March 12, 2004 at 03:36 PM

For any who want to say a prayer for the victims, I can do no better than this:

Padre nuestro que estas en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino. Hagase tu voluntad, como en el cielo, asi tambien en la tierra. El pan nuestro de cada dia, danoslo hoy. Y perdonanos nuestras deudas, como tambien nosotros perdonamos a nuestros deudores. Y no nos metas en entacion, mas libranos del mal; porque tuyo es el reino, y el poder, y la gloria, por todos los siglos.


Political bickering be damned, on this day.

Posted by: Kieran Lyons at March 12, 2004 at 04:15 PM

Thank you for your condolences friends. Yesterday was a terrible day in Spain.

Regarding the authorship of this monstrosity, the main suspect is still ETA. Just two months ago, the Spanish police thwarted an identical attack when they arrested two ETA terrorists aboard two trains enroute to Madrid with backpacks full of explosives.It's the same explosive used yesterday and one that ETA employs regularly. They frequently steal it in France, where it is used in minning and activities like that. So you can imagine how it sounds in Spain when, every year or so, we have news that ETA has robbed a ton of Titadine (a type of dinamite) in France.

Posted by: Golan at March 12, 2004 at 05:03 PM

The IRA only started talking when the SAS started "negotiating".

I hope Spain's government can cure the ETA problem with "lead therapy" not legal therapy.

It doesn't matter to me whether it was Marxist Nationalist terrorists or Islamofascist terrorists they are both prepared to actively target and kill civilians to get publicity for their "cause". Terrorists and their backers must be eradicated with zero tolerance.

Posted by: Rob Read at March 12, 2004 at 10:10 PM

Proposed three step plan:

1. Find out who did this.

2. Make sure.

3. Kill them.

Posted by: Parker at March 12, 2004 at 11:26 PM

I've sent an email to the Spanish embassy asking how I can donate to the families of the bereaved; if they have time to reply, I'd like to post it here.

Posted by: John Nowak at March 13, 2004 at 12:22 AM


Alert me via e-mail and I'll post the reply. Good work.

Posted by: tim at March 13, 2004 at 01:31 AM

To our Spanish friends - my heart goes out to you guys.

Unfortunately, the U.S. media's spineless parroting of the term "separatist" for the ETA terrorists is pretty widespread - I heard it used today on the local (Chicago, WGN-TV) TV news program. Made me want to throw my coffee mug through the TV.

Posted by: Percy Dovetonsils at March 13, 2004 at 01:36 AM

And then there's the idiocy - what on earth does the UN and some pronouncement of THE NEWS have to do with anything.

They're parasites. They need to get OUT OF THE WAY of people trying to make a peaceful world where no-one is starving.

Posted by: Joe at March 13, 2004 at 03:40 AM

"the coverage by American media is still worthy of a band of ignorants who keep scorning this Spanish bleeding tragedy."

The irony of it all.
After Spanish media coverage, especially TVE, of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict always finding excuses for the Palestinian homicide/suicide bombers,and refusing to accept the linkage of many different groups; to find American media being attacked because they speculate on ETA being the culprit makes me wonder.
Yes, this was a bloody tragedy. All the while some folks tried to convince the Europeans that the terrorists groups have been sharing ideas and training, others have done their damndest to differentiate between groups and offer excuses.
The media refusal to insist on calling all forms of terrorism by the same name have blinded people and dulled their senses.
This shocking display of barbarism in Madrid will, if it turns out that Al Queda did it, have some arguing that it was Spain's support in getting rid of Saddam. The Aznar will fall and the opposition will win. Far from criticising Fox and "friends", look to your politicians for division.

Posted by: Barry at March 13, 2004 at 06:28 AM

I really don't get the concept of Al-Queda getting "revenge" for Iraq, all along its been the anti-war crowds position that there was NO connection between Al-Queda and Iraq and in fact that Al-Queda apparently despised the Baathist party.

Yet now, any action against any coalition member is automatically assumed to be retribution or revenge for the attack on their 'Iraq brothers', (whom it now seems likely they themselves are actively targetting and killing in Iraq)

Posted by: JB at March 13, 2004 at 10:48 AM

From Madrid.
Thank you for the condolences. We're still numb for the pain of the victims.
However, most of us think that ETA is to blame. They tried it in december, in the same form (backpacks with explosives in trains). So please don't say this is not the ETA kind of attack, the police forces interceptec a vehicle with 500 kg (yes, 500) of explosives that were being to be used in a businnes zone of Madrid. This is so the ETA way.
I don't mind who it was, they're murderers and deserve the worst. But please, I'd ask to everyone that they don't make ETA aparence that of a "not so bad" terrorist because thay hadn't succed till now. All the victims are equal.
Please, excuse my bad use of English. Thank you.

Posted by: Almu at March 13, 2004 at 09:22 PM