European security bosses to hold terror summit
16 March 2004
MADRID – Intelligence chiefs from across Europe are meeting in the Spanish capital to discuss how to tighten security in the wake of the Madrid massacre, it was reported Tuesday.
The move came as suspicion mounted that Islamic militants were involved in the bomb attacks in Madrid, which left 201 dead.
European Union ministers will hold talks Friday in Madrid and security is sure to be high on the agenda.
The new meetings were announced as the US said it believed the al-Qaeda network was involved in the attacks.
A US Homeland Security Department official, Asa Hutchinson, said there were many unanswered questions about the closeness of the Madrid bombers and the al-Qaeda network – but he was satisfied there was an al-Qaeda connection.
Spain’s outgoing Interior Minister Angel Acebes said: “We have called a meeting for the coming days of the most important anti-terrorist services from the European Union.”
Top European police officials and others taking part would “co-ordinate inquiries and efforts, exchange information and plan for the future.”
Acebes added that the Spanish government was working closely with EU and Moroccan intelligence services in its investigations of the Madrid attacks.
An emergency meeting of EU interior and justice ministers is planned in Brussels ahead of a European summit on 25-26 March.
They will discuss appointing a special commissioner to combat the terror threat in Europe.
European Commission president Romano Prodi said: “We have to discuss thoroughly the entire [security] strategy and we will do it at the summit next week.
“The anti-terrorism commissioner could be a piece of that strategy.”
The bombings have prompted fierce debate in Germany about security measures, with the opposition calling for airport-style security to be introduced at railway stations across the country.
Security is being tightened elsewhere in Europe, with undercover anti-terrorist police patrolling London’s public transport system for the first time.
Passengers using underground trains in London now face random checks and searches.
Posters have been put up in the city’s transport terminals, urging the public to report anything suspicious.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news