The importance of this story is to remind that al-Qaeda appears to have intentionally attacked Spain (Madrid bombings) three days before its national elections simply to influence the outcome of the latter. And it worked: according to a number of analysts, Jose Zapatero and his Socialist Party became more popular than ever immediately after the attack. The Spaniards apparently rationalized that they were targeted because of their involvement in Iraq. After all, that’s what al-Qaeda said — and surely anything they say should be taken at face value?
Thus, the very day after winning the elections, Zapatero promised to withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq, saying, “The war [in Iraq] has been a disaster [and] the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only generated violence.” One month later the last of Spain’s troops left Iraq. More telling is the fact that the first question Jamal Zougam (one of the arrested suspects of the Madrid bombings) asked upon arriving at the Courthouse on 15 March 2004 was: “Who won the election?’ He must’ve been pleased to know that their terrorist attack achieved the desired result.
As November 4 approaches, such al-Qaedist tactics — we hate and attack you because of your current policies — as well as the sheepish response made by some of the populace — we promise to be good, see! we elected a friendly president who will play nice — should be borne in mind. Especially since foreign policy is not the reason they hate and attack.
“Spanish Police Arrest 8 Moroccans Suspected of Helping Al-Qaeda,” by Emma Ross-Thomas for Bloomberg, October 16:
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Spanish police arrested eight Moroccans suspected of helping al-Qaeda members implicated in the Madrid train bombings to flee.
The men were detained in Barcelona, Madrid and Algeciras before dawn today, the Interior Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. They are being investigated over the flight of eight men, including five who were suspected of involvement in the March 11, 2004, attacks, the ministry said.
Groups linked to al-Qaeda killed 191 people in the bombings of four commuter trains in the Spanish capital. The attacks, just three days before national elections, helped bring to power Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who subsequently withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq. Police have continued to foil attacks since then and have arrested 52 people in connection with Islamic terrorism this year, including today’s raids.
Police were searching the homes of the detained men, the ministry said.