Aznar gov was warned of Islamic terror threat

14th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 July 2004, MADRID — Spain's secret service repeatedly warned the former government before the Madrid massacre that the country was becoming a refuge for Islamic extremists, it was reported Wednesday.

14 July 2004

MADRID — Spain's secret service repeatedly warned the former government before the Madrid massacre that the country was becoming a refuge for Islamic extremists, it was reported Wednesday.

The parliamentary commission investigating the terrorist attacks saw classified reports from the CNI, Spain's secret service during a closed-door session.

According to legislators from various parties, the classified reports spoke of a growing perception among Muslims of Spain as an enemy of Islam and clearer threats to the country from radical Islamic groups in the months leading up to the attack in Madrid.

One of the reports, dated Feb. 21, 2003, suggested that Madrid's support for the U.S. stance on Iraq had increased the risk of an attack on Spain by Islamic fundamentalists.

The CNI intelligence service described in that report a change in the hitherto positive attitude toward Spain on the part of some radical Muslim organizations, notably the al-Qaeda linked Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

Other documents made available at Tuesday's executive session indicated the detonators used in the 11 March attacks, were discovered within hours of the massacre, MPs said.

One of those documents said the detonators were discovered in the initial inspection of a van found abandoned in the Madrid suburb of Alcala de Henares the morning of the attacks.

That information contradicted statements made before a commission last week by police officers who said the detonators, which were found along with a cassette tape featuring verses from the Koran, were not discovered until the van was inspected in Madrid on the afternoon of March 11, the day of the attacks.

The same sources said the time discrepancy is not the important issue since the CNI considered the very act of abandoning the van with the detonators, the leftover dynamite and the cassette tape as a virtual claim of responsibility by Muslim militants for the commuter train bombings that killed nearly 200 people and wounded more than 1,500 others.

After reviewing the documentation, several political groups announced their willingness to add to the panel's witness list and to request that some people who have already testified return to answer new questions in light of apparent contradictions between their statements and the CNI documents.

Following the start a week ago of hearings by the parliamentary commission on the attack, Spain's two largest parties - the ruling Socialists and the conservative PP, which was in power at the time of the terrorist attack - have accused each other of trying to obstruct the inquiry.

The Socialists say "more facts have surfaced that demand explanations" from former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, because they claim evidence shows the previous government "lied while police were doing their work."

But before hearing from Aznar, the Socialists want the chance to grill former Interior Minister Angel Acebes.

The PP accuses the Socialists of trying to "stand in the way" of the commission's work by keeping confidential informants of the police from testifying.

Many analysts say the Aznar government's insistence on blaming ETA in the face of  evidence pointing to Muslim militants was behind the PP's defeat in the March 14 elections.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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