Sunday, March 14, 2004

Is is just me, or do all of the news reports, claims of responsibility, claims of evidence, claims of linkage, etc. etc. in the Madrid train bombing stink just a little bit like (to steal a quote from Baby Herman in "Roger Rabbit") like yesterday's diapers? Now, I'm not saying there's no linkage to Al Qaida - there very well may be. But, cynical me, the answers provided so far just seem too "pat" too quickly.

To review - within hours of the bombings, a letter is received in London with Al Qaida claiming responsibility, and stating that planning for a big bang in the U.S. is "90% complete". Then, Spanish authorities find a vehicle with (oh my God!!) Arabic tapes and other paraphenalia. Not much later, a backpack is found with explosives and a cell phone timer. Then an anonymous call is received, pointing authorities to a videotape left in a trashcan. As reported by the AP:
A Sept. 17, 2003 indictment named Jamal Zougam, 30, as a "follower" of Imad Yarkas, who was jailed for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Zougam has been arrested in the Madrid bombings. Yarkas, who has used the alias Abu Dahdah, remains in Spanish custody.

The indictment, led by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, showed police had searched Zougam's home twice. One search turned up a video of mujaheddin fighters in Dagestan, Russia.

Zougam is one of three Moroccans and two Indians arrested in the Thursday attacks, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500. Officials said phones were apparently used as detonators on the 10 bombs that tore through four rush-hour trains.

Zougam was one of thousands of Moroccans put under surveillance by authorities after May terrorist bombings in the coastal city of Casablanca that killed 33 people and 12 bombers, a Moroccan official said on condition of anonymity.

European intelligence agencies were also working Sunday to identify a purported al-Qaida operative who claimed in a videotape that the terror group bombed trains in Madrid to punish Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The tape was discovered in a trash bin near Madrid's largest mosque on the eve of Spain's general elections Sunday. An Arabic-speaking man called a Madrid TV station to say the tape was there, Spain's Interior Ministry said.

If it all sounds to you a bit like Louie Renault yelling "Round up twice the usual suspects" after Major Strasser was shot in the movie "Casablanca", rest at ease that you're not alone.