At one o’clock in the morning Spanish time Angel Acebes appeared on TV here to inform Spanish citizens that the authorities were in possesion of a video showing a man who purports to represent Al Qaeda. In the words of the New York Times:
The man in the video, who was speaking Arabic with a Moroccan accent and wearing Arab garb, identified himself as Abu Dujan al-Afghani, evidently a nom de guerre, and claimed to be the military spokesman for Al Qaeda in Europe.
Since nothing here is ever clear, and it is impossible to know at this stage with any reasonable degree of certainty either who this man is, or who he really represents, caution would seem to be warranted.
What is clear, however, is that the whole course of events has turned from Thursday (and remember this is still only Sunday). It now appears reasonable to assume that this is the work of an Islamic fundamentalist group, probably one with links to Al Qaeda. Even if it seems strange to use this expression in the context of a terrorist organisation, a presumption of innocence in this atrocity must now hang over ETA and all its splinters until such time as evidence to the contrary appears on the table.
This being the case you all deserve an apology from me. I read it wrong. Whether this was a reasonable reading given the events and the background or not I leave to you.
I would also like to indicate that commentors Factory and Talos have both had their initial instincts confirmed. Does this suggest that being closer to the events is not always an advantage?
Whatever the rights and wrongs of what we all thought two things seem clear. Firstly the dimension of the problem just changed: this is no longer a ‘local’ Spanish affair, but is now something which concerns the whole of Europe and our relations with the Unites States. Secondly the problem of Eta is still there. Maybe Eta is ‘innocent’ this time: but how long will it be before we are burying the next victim of an Eta inspired assasination or bombing?
I therefore ask you to truly have sympathy for the Spanish citizens today. Especially for the most humble and least sophistocated of them. Their world has just been shattered in a way which must seem to many of them irreperable. Many have have found themselves in recent years hovering between fear and indignation in the face of Eta terror. They now find themselves parachuted without warning into the front line of a battle with the most important terrorist menace on the planet. They have just lost 200 innocent fellow citizens. Think of them this day, and let your hearts go out to them.