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March 11, 2004

Al Qaeda Fucks Up My Vacation Plans

Betty and i were in Spain two years ago. i fell in love with the country and the people. Betty's family on her mother's side is Spanish. Ever since then we've been saving to go back. This was supposed to be the year. We were a little worried about terrorism back in 2002, but our worries turned out to be unfounded. Oh there were a few car bombings in Seville for the WTA meeting a few weeks before we arrived, but nothing on the scale of this morning's train bombings.

In 2002, we rode the AVE high speed train from Seville to Madrid. It was one of the most pleasant train rides i've ever had, and we met some really cool people. i remember disembarking at the Atocha Station, which was one of the targets hit this morning. i feel so sad for the people of Madrid. During our visit, we were both impressed by how friendly, not to mention attractive, everybody was. This attack makes me sick.


i could be wrong, but i personally believe this was done by muslim terrorists, if not Al Qaeda itself. The Spanish government initially said that the explosives were the same type used by ETA. But that doesn't convince me. Naturally, Al Qaeda would use the same type, they probably obtained the explosives from the same black market source. And they've been itching to get back at Spain ever since Boabdil got kicked out of Granada back in 1492.

Although the UN was quick to blame ETA, this AJC.com article leads me to believe that the m.o. of this attack is not at all consistent with ETA's style. For instance:

[I]f ETA did conduct such a large and wholesale attack in its quest for independence of the Basque region in Spain and France, it would represent a major shift in its tactics.

'It does not compare with anything they have done . . . This kind of indiscriminate killing is totally unlike them so far,' said Joseba Zulaika, a professor and director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada at Reno.

. . .

Zulaika said the group's attacks have usually been marked by advance warning and that the separatists were critical of police in 1987 for what they said was failure to warn the public of a bomb ETA had planted in Barcelona.

(Madrid blogger John still holds that ETA was responsible. His excellent blog, Iberian Notes, is the place to go for news on this tragedy.)

There have already been large anti-ETA demonstrations across Spain, just as there were a few years ago after one of the last ETA attacks.

The Spanish Government has been a solid ally of this country, while it's people have been somewhat more critical of us. If it turns out that this was an islamic terrorist bombing, perhaps they will realize that being anti-US is no protection from these subhuman bastards who simply enjoy killing.

Update: John makes a strong case for ETA as the culprit. The comment thread here is quite interesting.

Update 2: Spanish Prime Minister Aznar still thinks it was ETA. But remember, Aznar was very tough on ETA, and in fact survived an assassination attempt by them. There's an election this weekend and if the bombers were ETA, Aznar's party would benefit. However, if the attackers were Al Qaeda, Aznar's party might not benefit, since he has been severely criticized for his support of the US in the Iraq war.

Posted by annika, Mar. 11, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


From what I can tell, the ETA often uses Semtex in its bombs. (Perhaps not always; they seem to have access to some C-4, too.) So do most of the terrorist scumbags in the world. I'm skeptical that the type of explosive used can tell us much about the bombers, unless it's homebrewed stuff made according to some sort of terrorist "family recipe." But that doesn't seem particularly likely, since both ETA and al Qaeda almost certainly have access to the good stuff.

Posted by: Matt on Mar. 11, 2004

Annika, I used your flag photo on my blog...

Posted by: Sarah on Mar. 11, 2004

No prob, Sarah.

Posted by: annika! on Mar. 11, 2004

Matt, here's what John said at Iberian Notes:

"There were thirteen backpack bags, each loaded with fifteen kilos of titadine. Eleven of them went off in four different trains, two at Atocha, one at El Pozo, and one at Santa Eugenia. The police say that because of the explosive used it's a 90% probability ETA did it. They also say that a new technique was used in the making of the bombs."

i never heard of titadine, do you think its another name for something?

Posted by: annika! on Mar. 11, 2004

Good question. I hadn't heard of it, but Googling revealed a bunch of mentions -- the vast majority in Spanish. One of the English language pages called it "Titadine dynamite," and the ETA (with some French terrorists) apparently stole a bunch in France back in 1999. There've been rumors -- seemingly highly questionable ones -- that they sold some to Hamas a while back.

That's pretty good evidence that it was in fact ETA. Not foolproof evidence, mind you; if I were an al Qaeda cell member in Spain, it might be easier for me to buy explosives from the local terrorists than to try to import the stuff. But it's pretty good evidence, nonetheless.

Posted by: Matt on Mar. 12, 2004

The 3/11 attack occurred exactly 2½ years and exactly 911 days after 9/11/01. Mere coincidence?

Posted by: d-rod on Mar. 12, 2004

Dude, I noticed the date relationship but, honestly, you actually counted the days?! That's a little frightening if no one's paying you for it. ;-)

Posted by: Matt on Mar. 12, 2004

I hadn't counted the days when I commented, but it isn't that hard 365+365=730 to start off, right? Then I count 19 days from 9/12/03-9/30/03. Add 31+30+31+31+29+11 and it adds up to 912! D'oh!!! Anyway 911 days did pass between the attacks and 3/11/04 could mark the beginning of the next 911 days. Since al Qaeda seems involved, its just speculation what it might mean to them.

Posted by: d-rod on Mar. 15, 2004

DVD to Pocket PC

Posted by: fjdh on Aug. 24, 2009