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March 9, 2006
Madrid Bombings Not Al-Qaeda Operation

The Spanish investigation into the March 11 bombings in Madrid has concluded that the planners and perpetrators were home-grown Islamists and not connected to al-Qaeda, the AP reports tonight. The assignment of this action to AQ came in the days after the bombing, when the terror network supposedly claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the reality is apparently somewhat murkier:

A two-year probe into the Madrid train bombings concludes the Islamic terrorists who carried out the blasts were homegrown radicals acting on their own rather than at the behest of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, two senior intelligence officials said.

Spain still remains home to a web of radical Algerian, Moroccan and Syrian groups bent on carrying out attacks — and aiding the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq — a Spanish intelligence chief and a Western official intimately involved in counterterrorism measures in Spain told The Associated Press.

The intelligence chief said there were no phone calls between the Madrid bombers and al-Qaida and no money transfers. The Western official said the plotters had links to other Islamic radicals in Western Europe, but the plan was hatched and organized in Spain. "This was not an al-Qaida operation," he said. "It was homegrown."

This isn't good news for Spain or the wider war on terror. The British had already discovered that their own citizens could find themselves so full of radical rage that they would bomb their own country despite its tolerance towards Islam. The Spaniards will have a somewhat different epiphany about the danger in their openness to outsiders. As the AP reports, Spain has a large number of Muslims from a variety of countries like many other European countries, and like its neighbors, the large and mostly unassimilated subculture gives a breeding ground to radical imams preaching deadly jihad.

It is, however, good news for al-Qaeda. It shows that the notoriety of terrorism becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that can operate with little or no connection or direction from AQ itself. Radical Islamists see the impact that these attacks have on nations like Spain, who reacted by withdrawing from Iraq. Those low-cost victories promote the AQ brand and alow them gains without having to risk their own resources.

Whether the Madrid attacks had direct AQ involvement isn't even the point any more. Radical Islam and murderous jihad is the true enemy and must be fought wherever found.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 9, 2006 8:55 PM

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