Ex-security minister claims ETA had a hand in March 11 Madrid massacre

18th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 November 2004, MADRID-Spain's former minister of security told a parliamentary commission into the Madrid terrorist bombings in which 191 people were killed he remained convinced the Basque terrorist organisation ETA had a hand in the attacks.

18 November 2004

MADRID-Spain's former minister of security told a parliamentary commission into the Madrid terrorist bombings in which 191 people were killed he remained convinced the Basque terrorist organisation ETA had a hand in the attacks.

Ignacio Astarloa told the commission he had not lied in the aftermath of the 11 March bombings or tried to manipulate the facts.

Astarloa was referring to allegations that the then conservative government led by former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar insisted ETA were involved until two days after the bombings of four commuter trains.

At the time, as evidence mounted Islamic radicals were the authors of the bombings, critics claimed the Aznar government tried to manipulate the facts in order to prevent a backlash against Aznar's Popular Party at the general election, three days later on 14 March.

The Socialists won a shock victory amid mounting public anger over the Aznar government's claims ETA was behind the bombings.

All police chiefs who have appeared before the parliamentary commission into the events surrounding the bombings, have said they believed ETA placed no part in them.

Astarloa said a meeting held on 11 March, just hours after the attacks, was "difficult" as the death toll, or what type of explosives had been used, was not clear.

He said at Christmas 2003, ETA had attempted unsuccessfully to bomb a Madrid train station using 50 kg of explosives, leading to fears of a repeat attack.

Astarloa said during the meeting on 11 March, Interior ministry officials said on one hand they knew ETA had never previously carried out a terrorist on the same scale as the Madrid bombings.

But ETA had also tried to bomb a train station just three months earlier.

However, ETA usually gave warnings before bombings – which did not happen on 11 March.

Astarloa added that no security service "from any country" had given any warnings of an impending ETA attack.

He said Islamic terrorists were not suspected until a video tape in which verses from the Koran were read out by an unknown figure was found in a car near the station where the bombs were planted on four rush-hour trains.

Astarloa said: "We are just at the beginning of something and not the end. There is much still to learn."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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