The day Spain caved to terrorists

Twenty years ago, although it feels like a lot more than that, most of us woke to shocking news from Madrid:

On March 11, 2004, 193 people are killed and nearly 2,000 are injured when 10 bombs explode on four trains in three Madrid-area train stations during a busy morning rush hour. The bombs were later found to have been detonated by mobile phones. The attacks, the deadliest against civilians on European soil since the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing, were initially suspected to be the work of the Basque separatist militant group ETA. This was soon proved incorrect as evidence mounted against an extreme Islamist militant group loosely tied to, but thought to be working in the name of, al-Qaida.

Investigators believe that all of the blasts were caused by improvised explosive devices that were packed in backpacks and brought aboard the trains. The terrorists seem to have targeted Madrid’s Atocha Station, at or near which seven of the bombs were detonated. The other bombs were detonated aboard trains near the El Poso del Tio Raimundo and Santa Eugenia stations, most likely because of delays in the trains’ journeys on their way to Atocha. Three other bombs did not detonate as planned and were later found intact.

A few days later, the socialists won the election by connecting the incident to Spanish troops in Iraq.  It was a pathetic exploitation of the tragedy, but it worked.

At the time, many concluded that the terrorists had won a big one in Spain. It was the first time that terrorists changed a government. Thankfully, it turned out to be the last as PM John Howard of Australia and President George W. Bush were reelected later in 2004.

Unfortunately, Spain’s PM José Luis Rodriguez-Zapatero turned out to be worse than anyone could have imagined.  Spanish troops were removed from Iraq. The terrorists did not leave Spain. That’s PM Rodriguez-Zapatero’s legacy and the low point of his very mediocre career.

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2 thoughts on “The day Spain caved to terrorists”

  1. Zapatero went on to shill for Venezuela’s chavista regime, which no doubt made it worth his while. But I don’t blame him nearly as much as the Spanish electorate, same as with Obama or Biden.

  2. In a way, it helps to see Spain for what it is and has been as opposed to what Cubans wish it were. It allows for greater objectivity and greater detachment, which makes the truth less personal and less painful.

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