Secret service sidelined after bombings
19 July 2004, MADRID- The former head of Spanish intelligence told a parliamentary commission investigating the Madrid bombings Monday that Spain had expected an attack -- but one against its interests abroad.
19 July 2004
MADRID- The former head of Spanish intelligence told a parliamentary commission investigating the Madrid bombings Monday that Spain had expected an attack -- but one against its interests abroad.
"We had been tipped off that there would be an attack on Spanish interests but we thought it would happen outside Spain," said Jorge Dezcallar, who was in charge of the national intelligence organisation CNI at the time of the blasts which left 191 people dead in Spain's worst terror attack.
"Bin Laden mentioned Spain in several messages," he told the inquiry.
"It was more probable that there was going to be a major attack on Spanish forces serving in Iraq," said Dezcaller.
He added: "It would have been very difficult to prevent the March 11 attacks."
Dezcallar said the CNI had spent the immediate aftermath of the blasts on the sidelines.
"We were rather out of the game. We weren't (involved) in the operational investigations. Between March 11 and 16 the CNI did not participate in any meeting" into the blasts, he added.
Alberto Saiz, Dezcallar's successor, said Monday he had asked former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, whose right-wing government suffered a shock general election defeat three days after the bombings, to return any CNI documents still in his possession.
Aznar told a Colombian radio station at the weekend that he had retained some intelligence papers into March 11 "as I was prime minister".
But Saiz said: "He should give them back to the centre (CNI). These documents are not the property of a person who is not now prime minister."
The inquiry into the blasts is at pains to determine just when Aznar's government became aware the bombings were likely to be the work of Islamic militants rather than Basque radicals, on whom they initially pinned the blame.
Political opponents of Aznar's Popular Party suspect the former government tried to mislead the electorate by suggesting the Basque separatist organisation ETA was behind the bombings.
Evidence began to emerge within hours of the blasts of an Islamic radical connection.
Many Spaniards regarded the bombings as a reprisal for Aznar's support for the US-led intervention in Iraq.
In the election three days after the bombings, Spain elected Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as prime minister.
Zapatero has since withdrawn Spanish military personnel from Iraq.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news