News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinecabal-eliteeuropean-unionmadrid-attack-march-2004 — Viewing Item

Officials still divided on whom to blame for bombings { March 13 2004 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

March 13, 2004
Officials Still Divided on Whom to Blame for Madrid Bombings

Spanish officials investigating the Madrid terror attacks provided little new information yesterday about who might have carried out the bombings, and gave conflicting interpretations of the evidence that emerged.

The Spanish interior minister, Ángel Acebes, said the Basque separatist group ETA remained the government's prime suspect in the bombings, in which at least 199 people have died.

[On Saturday, Reuters quoted Spanish regional authorities as saying the death toll had risen to 200.]

Some Spanish antiterrorism officials said, however, that they questioned the government's seeming insistence on implicating the Basque group despite information that suggested the possible involvement of Islamic militants.

The difference of views among Spanish officials crystallized over an unexploded bomb that investigators recovered from one of the four trains blown up on Thursday morning as they carried commuters into Madrid from the working-class suburb of Alcalá de Henares.

Mr. Acebes said the bomb, hidden in a gym bag, was made of a Spanish-made blasting explosive known as Goma 2-E that ETA has often used in the past. The bombers also used shrapnel to increase the impact of the bomb and a cellphone as a trigger, he said.

Privately, however, another Spanish antiterrorism official said Goma 2, a gelatinous, nitroglycerin-based explosive that is typically used in mining, has been linked to ETA only rarely since the Spanish authorities began to tightly guard supplies of it in the 1980's.

After those controls were imposed, ETA began to depend mainly on explosives stolen abroad, particularly in France and Germany, including a huge cache of a dynamite-like explosive known as titadine, the official said.

Other Spanish officials said they were more intrigued by the link between the unexploded bomb and a stolen van that was found Thursday near the Alcalá station where three of the four trains originated, in which seven detonators were discovered.

The detonator on the unexploded bomb, as Mr. Acebes disclosed yesterday, was the same as those found in the van.

The van also contained some documents in Arabic and an audiotape of readings from the Koran that one official said referred to the education of children.

In addition, callers to a Basque-language newspaper and television station yesterday denied on ETA's behalf any involvement by the group in the Madrid bombings. ETA typically takes responsibility for its attacks in the Basque news media.

Two Spanish antiterrorism officials said they expected it would take another day or two to begin to draw firmer conclusions from the forensic analysis of samples taken from the bomb sites.

With Spanish national elections scheduled for Sunday, one official said he was suspicious of the government's sudden restraint in assessing the evidence gathered so far in the Madrid bombings. "I think they may be holding back information so that it doesn't influence the vote," the official said.

American counterterrorism officials were careful not to speculate about who might be responsible for the Madrid attacks, deferring to the Spanish government.

One American official cautioned specifically against "leaning too far in the direction of Islamic extremist involvement," despite the apparent link between the stolen van and the recovered bomb.

"It is the kind of thing that ETA certainly would have the capability to carry out," the official said.

American officials also noted that there had been no increase in the "chatter" in monitored terrorist communications that they often pick up before attacks by Al Qaeda.

Mr. Acebes said there was ample evidence that ETA had in fact been trying to carry out a major attack, citing three foiled plots that bore similarities to the Madrid bombings.

Last December, the Spanish authorities intercepted two accused Basque militants who they said were headed to the capital with nearly 100 pounds of explosives that they planned to detonate on Christmas Eve at a train station in the northern part of the city. On Feb. 29, the police said they had arrested two other Basque suspects driving to Madrid with 1,000 pounds of explosives hidden in a truck.

And last month, the European police organization Europol warned of "large-scale operations" by ETA aimed at "creating considerable public shock and international coverage," according to an excerpt of the report cited by Agence France-Presse.

But officials who were more skeptical of ETA's involvement said none of that necessarily led to the conclusion that the group would or could carry out attacks on such a scale.

Before Thursday, the most victims killed in an ETA attack had been 21, in a Barcelona supermarket bombing in 1987. But public outrage at that indiscriminate attack plunged the group into a crisis that eventually led to the ascendancy of more moderate leaders.

The moderate leaders, however, have since "lost control of their commandos," one Spanish official said.

Douglas Jehl and David Johnston contributed reporting from Washington for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

8m people march [jpg]
Accused ringleader of madrid bombing acquitted { September 2007 }
American citizen held for link to madrid bombing { May 6 2004 }
Anzar sowing confusion over madrid bombs { December 14 2004 }
Attacks 911 days after sept 11 01 { March 13 2004 }
Aznar stands behind ETA link to madrid bombing
Bomb case against oregon lawyer dropped { May 25 2004 }
British links of bombing suspect
Conflicting clues in bloody madrid bombings { March 12 2004 }
Death toll in madrid bombings rises to 198 { March 12 2004 }
Detonators mobile phones not common to eta { March 12 2004 }
Eta blamed from madrid blasts
Eta denies role in madrid bombings { March 12 2004 }
Eu calls emergency meetings on terrorism
Eurostocks sink 3 percent on madrid blasts
Five december explosions near madrid after eta warning
Flawed FBI 311 probe used secret warrant { April 7 2005 }
France increases border checks after spanish blasts { March 11 2004 }
Group claiming blast may not exist
Italy arrests egyptian bombing mastermind
Italy hands over madrid suspect
Madrdid train blasts kill at least 131 { March 11 2004 }
Madrid plot funded by drugs
Madrid suspects blow selves up
Madrid victims criticize schoolyard politics
Misidentified muslim detained for bombings compensated
Moraccan arrested in madrid has suspected alqaida ties { March 14 2004 }
Moroccan and indian accused deny madrid involvement
New madrid government to accelerate eu { March 16 2004 }
Officials still divided on whom to blame for bombings { March 13 2004 }
Police let bombers go on traffic stop
Portland attorney house searched without notice { May 25 2004 }
Protesters blame bombings government support of war
Responsbility by group who claimed eastcoast blackout
Socialists oust spains ruling party { March 15 2004 }
Spain announces five arrests in bombings
Spain arrests 13 suspects in 311 probe
Spain arrests 20 alleged islamist militants { December 2005 }
Spain bombings seen as europes 911 { March 12 2004 }
Spain maintains eta bomb suspect a day before elections
Spain unable to identify man on alqaida tape
Spain wants maximum power in eu says zapatero
Spais new leader says troops will leave iraq
Spanish bomb victims call for independent investigation
Spanish had prior knowledge of attack
String of explosions kills170 in spanish train system { March 11 2004 }
Suspects worked for spanish police { April 29 2004 }
Top 911 madrid suspect abu qatada under british protection
Two suspected eta members arrested last month with explosives { March 12 2004 }
Was it eta or alqaeda { March 12 2004 }

Files Listed: 50


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple