|Click for slide show of images from the Madrid jihad terror attack.|
At about 7:40 a.m., four trains are bombed in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people and injuring about 1,800 more. These are not suicide bombings, but were set by cell phone timers. Basque separatists are initially blamed, but evidence later points to people loosely associated with al-Qaeda. It will later be reported that 34 out of the 40 main people suspected or arrested for involvement in the bombings were under surveillance in Spain prior to the bombings (see Shortly Before March 11, 2004). Most of the bombers had never been to any training camps. In 2006, Spanish investigators will announce that the bombings were inspired by al-Qaeda, but not ordered or funded by al-Qaeda’s leadership. Specifically, the bombers are said to have been inspired by a speech allegedly given by Osama bin Laden in October 2003 (see October 19, 2003). [New Yorker, 7/26/2004; Associated Press, 3/9/2006] However, there will also be evidence against this that will not be refuted. For instance, the investigators will claim that all the key participants are either dead or in jail, but a number of them remain free overseas.
Hours later, police find a van with detonators and a cassette tape with verses from the Qur’an at a train station through which all of the trains had passed.
History Commons has extensive details on the pre-attack surveillance and failure to prevent the Madrid bombing.
January 2003-March 10, 2004: Spanish Authorities Fail to Arrest Madrid Bombers Taking Part in Common Crimes
Ten years on, Spain is facing a different type of attack.