Muslim Extremists Suspected for Terror Attack in Spain

( [email protected] ) Mar 12, 2004 03:03 AM EST

MADRID, Spain - A series of bombing devastated Madrid, Spain Thursday, March 11, killing 192 and wounding more than 1,400. The worst terrorist attack in Spanish history happened exactly 21/2 years after the terrorist attack on Sept 11, 2001 in America. At first Spanish officials thought it was done by Basque separatists, known as ETA, who are fighting to gain freedom in northern Spain and southwestern France because they have already carried out minor terrorist attacks over Spain’s history but after an Arab language tape was found in a van, many are suspecting that it could be done by Muslim extremists, most likely al-Qauida.

The 10 backpack bombs exploded in a 15-minute span, starting about 7:39 a.m., on trains along nine miles of commuter line from Santa Eugenia to the Atocha terminal, a bustling hub for subway, commuter and long-distance trains just south of the famed Prado Museum. Police also found and detonated three other bombs.

"March 11, 2004, now holds its place in the history of infamy," Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said.

As three days of national mourning were declared, thousands of people joined anti-terror rallies across the country Thursday. Anti-ETA rally joined by millions of people is expected tomorrow evening as well.

In London, the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said it had received a claim of responsibility for the bombings issued by the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, acting in the name of al-Qaida, the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden, which is blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The message said that sent 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.

The statement taunted the prime minister, asking: “Aznar, where is America? Who will protect you, Britain, Japan, Italy and others from us?”

The message, which the newspaper faxed to The Associated Press office in Cairo, Egypt, also warned the coming of another possible terror in the United States.

“We announce the good news for the Muslims in the world that the strike of the black wind of death, the expected strike against America, is now at its final stage — 90 percent ready — and it is coming soon, by God’s will,” the message said.

In Washington, White House spokesman Sean McCormack said, “We’ve seen the news reports, and we’re going to determine what the facts are.”

President Bush extended U.S. sympathies, saying, "I appreciate so very much the Spanish government’s fight against terror, their resolute stand against terrorist organizations.”