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Two police reports warned of terror attacks

Published on 30/06/2004

30 June 2004

MADRID— The inquiry investigating the events surrounding the Madrid terrorist bombings heard Wednesday that before the massacre police warned twice that Spain could be a target.

The Guardia Civil submitted at least two reports to the commission which were compiled after terrorist attacks in May 2003 in Casablanca, Morocco.

About 45 people – 12 of them bombers – were killed in the suicide attacks, widely blamed on Islamic militants.

The bombers’ targets in the 16 May 2003 attacks included a Spanish restaurant, a five-star hotel, a Jewish community centre and the Belgian consulate.

One report said: “The attack on the Spanish restaurant in Casablanca, and the declarations by one of top al-Qaeda to operatives calling on them to intensify the Muslim Jihad and the attack against the enemies of Islam, cannot but confirm the hypothesis that Spain is an objective of this type of terrorism.”

However, despite the connection made in the reports between the Casablanca attack and Spain becoming  a potential target, various members of the former conservative Popular Party government were said to have insisted there was no link.

The former defence minister Federico Trillo said that the Spanish restaurant could have been chosen “not because it was the Spanish consulate but because it was in the area of the bomb-blast”.

The former foreign minister Ana Palacio said the restaurant was a “private company” and denied that the position adopted by Spain on Iraq had any connection.

And Rodrigo Rato, former economy minister, said that it was not the first time there had been terrorist attacks in Morocco and to “not to consider the internal political situation would be to go down the wrong road”.

In a second report, on security in the Straits of Gibraltar, which repeated the same argument with regard to the Casablanca bombings.

But it added that there were signs of extremist Islamic activity in Spain.

It added that there was a “high risk not only with relation to Morocco, but to Spain because of its relations with the U.S. and Israel”.

It cited the activities of certain imams in Almeria, Tudela, Castellon, Valencia and Leganes- where the group of seven Islamic terrorists blew themselves up on 3 April.

Another report, by deputy director of the Guardia Civil, Vicente Faustino Pellicer, warned of potential airborne terrorist attacks.

More dramatically, on the morning after the 11 March attacks, an email sent by the Guardian Civil warning of attacks on airports.

Earlier, a report in October 2001, warned of risks run by Spain because of its close relationship with Nato and its geographic closeness to North Africa, home to many of the terrorists who were subsequently arrested in connection with the 11 March bombings.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news