Known in Spain as 11-M, it’s the
horrific terrorist attack that took place on March 11 2004. It was a whole
decade ago, but numbing pictures of the four blown-up commuter trains were
beamed around the world, making it an atrocity that remains indelibly in the
memory on an international basis.
Ten bombs ripped through 4 commuter
trains heading for Atocha Station in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring
some 1900. Many injuries were life changing, and of course, the lives of
hundreds of families were shattered too. They still are, in all probability.
The bombings were indiscriminate,
and designed to inflict harrowing harm to the trains’ commuters. The fact that
the bombs were filled with shrapnel shows this to be the case. Although the initial
view was that it was the work of ETA, the Basque separatist group, a prompt
examination of all the facts and forensic evidence, revealed it to be the
handiwork of al-Quaeda inspired Islamist terrorists. Indeed, during the
subsequent full scale investigation of this outrage, the authorities have
arrested almost 500 suspected Islamic extremists. Latterly, 18 people were
arrested for the actual attack, though the 7 main suspects committed suicide in
early April 2004, by blowing themselves up in a Madrid apartment, killing a
policeman in the process.
Understandably, Spanish authorities
have been gathering intelligence ever since, from all sources, including
electronic, and have reported frequent references to "Al Andalus”. In Arabic
this means "to become green at the end of summer” and refers to the large chunk
of Spain that the Arabs colonized centuries ago. Understandably, Spain’s
counter terrorist services believe this means Spain is in the terrorist sights
once again, and the alert level here is at the second highest category – "a
likely risk of attack”.
A study by the Spanish research
facility, Royal Elcano Institute, revealed that 84 Islamists, all young men,
were convicted for attack plots in Spain between 1996 and 2012 – or died in
relation to such attack plots. Most of them were first generation immigrants
from Algeria, Morocco or Pakistan. This is a phenomenon that all UK citizens
will recognize. Clearly, whether we are UK or Spanish residents our duty is the
same. We have to watch out for behavior that is suspicious and unusual, and
report such instances to the authorities. If our suspicions prove, at a later
date, to be unfounded – that’s OK. It’s far better to thwart a terrorist
atrocity, than to allow it to happen through embarrassment at reporting a
suspicion, just in case it proves to be wrong.
The devotees of political
correctness, both here and in the UK, have a great deal to answer for. I’ve
chosen to live in this country, and so I have to respect the traditions and
culture in place here. I’m not entitled to demand changes to dress, language,
or religion. It’s about time we made it clear to Islamists, or any others
trying to bring about change by terror, that the same applies to them.