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Aznar saw report in 2003 warning of terror attacks

Published on 29/06/2004

29 June 2004

MADRID – Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar received a report warning of a possible Islamic terrorist attack in 2003, it emerged Tuesday.

The report was written by Juan Avilés, director of the University Institute for the Investigaton of Internal Security, and passed to another body which Aznar headed.

The report by Aviles has now been passed to the inquiry which is investigating the circumstances surrounding the 11 March attacks.

But the report has been attacked by the opposition Popular Party, of which Aznar was head when he was prime minister.

Vicente Martínez Pujalte, a PP representative on the inquiry, said it was a “personal opinion” which had been taken out of context.

Avilés, profesor of contemporary history, warned in the report of a “new outbreak of terrorist threat produced by the Iraq war, a threat which will affect principally those countries taking part in it.”

He named Spain as well as Britain, France and Italy as possible targets for Islamic terrorism.

The report, called The Threat of Islamic Terrorism in Spain, added: “Spanish territory could be used to prepare an attack in the United States, Russia or Algeria. And Spanish tourists could be victims of attacks in any holiday destinations.”

The report was part of a book called The Security Challenge published in 2003.

Avilés admitted that despite a series of arrests between 1997 and 2003, no specific plans had been discovered for attacks in Spain.

He believed that cells uncovered in Spain were providing logistical support for groups planning attacks in other countries.

He linked the terrorists who carried out the 11 March attacks were linked to the al-Qaeda cell formed by Abu Dahdah, a leading terror suspect detained in Spain and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria.

Aviles said that any links between al-Qaeda and the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were “tenuous”.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news