» Thursday, March 11, 2004

Spanish bomb attacks

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Cabinet this morning had been deeply saddened and shocked by the news from Madrid today. The death toll as a result of the attacks was continuing to climb. The Cabinet had sent a collective message of condolence to the Spanish Government, and the Foreign Secretary had spoken to his Spanish counterpart. In a statement in Downing Street before Cabinet, Mr Straw had underlined that he regarded the attacks as an assault on the principle of democracy, coming, as they had, three days before the Spanish elections. The Prime Minister had said to Cabinet that, “This terrible attack underlines the threat that we all continue to face from terrorism in many countries, and why we all must work together internationally to safeguard our peoples against such attacks and defeat terrorism”. We would remain in contact with the Spanish Government throughout the day.

Asked if there was any suspicion that the Madrid bombings were anything other than the work of ETA, the PMOS said the Foreign Secretary had noted that all the information he had received, including that from his Spanish counterpart, had indicated that ETA was responsible. However, we did not know that for certain at this stage. Asked if the Prime Minister was intending to speak to the Spanish Prime Minister today, the PMOS said it was not impossible.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Let it not be said that the war against terrorism is tilting at windmills.

    Comment by David Boothroyd — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:25 pm | Link
  2. Um, forgive me for being slow-witted, what would that mean?

    Comment by Lodjer — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:29 pm | Link
  3. From Don Quixote. The title character mistakes the windmills for giants, and tilts at them (ie charges into attack). See http://www.ctspanish.com/literature/windmills2.htm. Hence ’tilting at windmills’ = attacking imaginary enemies.

    Comment by David Boothroyd — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:42 pm | Link
  4. Aha. Nice reference.

    I don’t intend any of this to be apologism for terrorism, but all of this "disgust" and use of the word "evil" to describe these people – do they think these people were born terrorists?

    The methods are extreme – obviously. But the situation which drives people to these methods is obviously never of their own making.

    Had Britain and France intervened – on the side of Democracy – in the Spanish civil war, it could be argued that not only ETA, but also the 2nd World War, might have been avoided.

    Comment by Lodjer — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:50 pm | Link
  5. That’s a bit simplistic. True, no-one is born a terrorist. But anyone can choose not to be a terrorist, and the vast majority of people do, whatever their politics.

    There might be justice in some of the causes which inspire terrorism — that’s a matter of opinion — but it’s hard to argue that violence is the only option for any of the current terrorist groups.

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 11 Mar 2004 on 5:03 pm | Link
  6. …as it also is for our governments…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 11 Mar 2004 on 5:22 pm | Link
  7. Anyone can chose not to be a terrorist but they can not always choose how to express an opinion or fight against an apparent injustice. If your political party is outlawed (as in spain) or your representatives are branded ‘evil doers’ then it limits the ways to get your opposition across.

    I am utterly opposed to terrorism and I do not want to be offering an excuse for their appaulling acts but if someone believes they have to do something and they have no legal option they will choose an illegal one. This still does not excuse violence but if you truly want to defeat terrorism then you must give these people another option.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 11 Mar 2004 on 5:27 pm | Link
  8. It is a bit simplistic. But, as Papalazzarazu says, given no voice to speak there arent many other options.

    It is always tempting to view situations as they are, and ignore how they developed. The Basques have been where they are, just being Basque, since about the stone age, it would have been hard to imagine a people less likely to become terrorists, they didn’t even have a name for the territory they want autonomy over (Basque being, er, French I think). Their flag has full French military honours, yet untill recently was banned in Spain.

    What started out as people wanting to preserve their own culture escalates as they are ignored at best and at worst brutally repressed under a dictatorship.

    The methods become more and more extreme – criminals are attracted to the group, the repression gets worse and the whole thing escalates to the point of, well, what just happened.

    Comment by Lodjer — 11 Mar 2004 on 6:35 pm | Link
  9. (I should say that at this stage we don’t know for certain that ETA were responsible for the bombings, though from news reports it seems that this is the most probable theory among commentators and government.)

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 11 Mar 2004 on 6:41 pm | Link
  10. Unless I am mistaken Batasuna was banned for allegedly being affiliated to ETA. Whilst not endorsing the prohibition of any political party in a democratic nation I think it is to simple to offer a potential justification to ETA, in that they have no political voice. Their political party was banned because of their terrorist actions.

    Comment by Chris Atkinson — 11 Mar 2004 on 7:06 pm | Link
  11. …as Sinn Fein were banned from speaking because of their links to the IRA.

    Sinn Fein are now free from such undemocratic restrictions, the second largest party in the Northern Ireland assembly, and one of the strongest advocates for the peaceful solution to the troubles outlined in the Good Friday agreement.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 11 Mar 2004 on 7:20 pm | Link
  12. A good point that we don’t know if it is ETA, although the view most commonly expressed at the moment is that it was ETA and Al-Quaeda. How well that would suit George and Tony. I expect they are loving it.

    Comment by Lodjer — 11 Mar 2004 on 8:34 pm | Link
  13. Absolutely indeedy! Tony Blairs anti-Terror speech last week very succinctly summed up the amazingly thick-skinned hypocricy of government when he conveniently forgot to mention how many times he has been warned that it is HIS OWN ACTIONS which are increasing the liklihood of terrorist attacks in our own country. Apparently, according to him, we should be thankful for his efforts… Words (almost) fail me at his duplicity.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 11 Mar 2004 on 9:52 pm | Link
  14. My tendency is to urge the utmost caution before drawing conclusions about who, exactly, was responsible for this strike. It’s militarily near-precise execution is a little bit of the Shock and Awe that is on the cards. I wish I could understate it, although that is about the only thing I have in common with T.B. Certain politicians will not disagree with such a prognosis, for they have stated it as a de facto imminence. Like September 11th, which has been predictably referenced already by Straw and others, and rightly so, it is a day in which all that has come before makes way for the next stage. Have a careful think about the evidence supporting two key notions: 1) That you have been primed to expect this sort of thing; 2) And you now believe it is far more likely to happen, in more places, closer to home. We are now becoming convinced that the War On Terra (pun intended, in case you’re a Novice) is an actual Thing, a new reality, or as a politician said today, a desire to unleash Armageddon. (Note the religious reference. All of a sudden, there is essentially a non-religious element, apparently, to these attacks, ETA being one of those traditional land-grabber type groups. ‘Throw me a ball of string, and I’ll chase it’.) The true leader would dare to question the premise that it is a pre-requisite of human civilisations for people to split into groups who then oppose each other. Such a situation has always needed fuel to sustain the massive effort involved in doing this. And with so much fuel about, such as ‘economic reality’ and the arms industry, we can expect to be fighting fire with fire for a long time. We didn’t get where we are today by not fuelling the fire.

    I understand that folk may be indignant and outraged at the suggestion that these things have been planned and staged, by persons unknown (persons you wouldn’t naturally suspect given how they are presented to us), within cut-outs and shadowy blueprints for ambitious long-term objectives. But I am not stupid, or gullible or prone to believe anything that cannot be thoroughly tested. I have taken the time to investigate matters available to all, and some which is less available. I have found myself extremely reluctant to be convinced of the picture that the facts and instinct paint together. 9-11 becomes 3-11, while the detainees, the focus of so much ambivalence and suspicion, walk free (though their minds may well still be trapped in ritualistic habits, CIA console flashbacks and a lust for meaning in life enough to awaken a God for their cause). Well, talk about mind-f***. We\x92re all in this together, don\x92t ya know?

    For the record, terrorists, whoever you are (conventional or rogue), you are wrong, deluded, insane, lost, and extremely frightened. You have buried your fear in bravado, and a contrived and feeble righteousness is your lame cover. You do not realise that violence is love stifled by its own thirst for innocence. You will not find your innocence in this world, and so you look to the next. But no God of power will demand anything of you that He has not already given to you. There is no justification for your own self-condemnation. And you fail to recognise that death and destruction can, ultimately, be nothing more than a dream of the limitation you think you deserve, because you are drenched in guilt and wouldn’t know yourself without it. You would limit the limitlessness of what is beyond this world, and claim it as your own heaven. This is a sad and pathetic use of what you have been given. So the sleepwalkers drift through town, murdering other sleepwalkers who dare to dream a different dream. The result is a nightmare. These are always solved by waking up.

    If Al Quaida is later stated to be responsible for the cold-blooded killings and maimings, then it is worth investigating Al Quaida, its origins, its likely targets, its supposed aims and their potential for adoption among ‘enough’ recruits to make a difference; AND its resources. (It is worth investigating it, anyway.) It will point elsewhere. It will trace back to the movement of money and arms and drugs. But I am not going to do your homework for you. And in these ‘uncertain times’ why would you believe me anyway?. Just don’t go to sleep. You have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you. If you think you know, you have closed doors. The more doors that close on the mind, the more you will feel compelled to sleep. Nothing you see means anything. For this, we should be grateful, not frightened.

    "This is a journey through fear, for such it seems to be." ACIM.

    Comment by HH — 12 Mar 2004 on 12:53 am | Link

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