Five Detentions in Madrid

Ok, it’s 8:20 on Saturday afternoon. I’d promised no more posts, but now there is some real news. Interior Minister Angel Acebes has just informed a press conference that 5 people have been detained in Madrid.

They have been detained in connection with a mobile phone and phone card which accompanied a pack of explosives that failed to explode.

This information needs to be treated with the utmost caution, since they have been detained for the fraudulent fabrication and sale of the phone card. We thus do not know the extent of the implication. It is better to await more details before jumping to too many conclusions.

What can be said is that three of the detainees are Morrocan and two have Indian nationality. This tends to suggest there may well be an Islamic fundamentalist connection, but until we know more about the extent of their involvement it would be better to remain prudent.

Of course the implications of this detention on election eve are quite important. There is already a significant demonstration of young people (convened by mobile phone nets) outside the PP headquarters in Calle Genova. The atmosphere generally is very tense. I will report and update as and when there is something worthwhile to say.

Update 1: 8:50 Saturday afternoon. Demonstrations of young people outside PP offices around Spain are increasing. In the Basque Country tensions are also rising: news has just arrived that a policeman has shot dead a 60 year old unarmed baker for refusing to hang a ‘crespon’ of mourning outside his shop. TV here has just shown images of police truncheon charging radical nationalists waving Basque flags at the doors of the mortuary where the dead bakers body was taken. More updates as necessary: it may be a long night.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Terrorism and tagged , by Edward Hugh. Bookmark the permalink.

About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

6 thoughts on “Five Detentions in Madrid

  1. This is true Bob, but Cadena Ser also reported lots of other things, like the idea that a suicide bomber had been identified among the dead, which, to date, does not appear to be true.

    As I say in the other post: all information here is political, everyone has an axe to grind. So you can take nothing like this at face value. Next week all this will become much clearer.

  2. Judging by the latest news on the web, not only was blaming ETA entirely premature but that has seriously rebounded against Aznar:

    “MADRID, March 13 (Reuters) – Anti-government demonstrations sprang up across Spain on Saturday night in apparent protest at the initial blaming of Basque separatist group ETA for rail bombs in Madrid two days’ ago that killed 200 people.” – from:

    “A crowd of left wing and anti-war demonstrators outside the headquarters of Spain’s ruling Popular Party has swelled to thousands. The protesters are accusing the Spanish Government of deliberately manipulating the information about the devastating bomb attacks in Madrid. Jose Maria Aznar’s Government had claimed armed Basque group ETA was the prime suspect. Analysts say Mr Aznar’s centre-right party, which has campaigned against ETA, would have picked up votes if it was perceived ETA carried out the attacks.” – from:

  3. Most readers here probably will not recall the wave of terror generated in Yorkshire, England, in the early 1980s by a running series of brutal murders of women who were mostly, but not altogether, ladies of the night. There was an evident pattern and the perpetrator was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. The continuing and unsuccessful police investigation throughout should be a perennial warning of what can happen if the police become locked into a flawed line of inquiry.

    The police in West Yorkshire, where the murders occurred across a wide geographic area of conurbations, became absolutely convinced that the Ripper came from the north-east region of England because of a taped message, in a pronounced geordie accent unique to the north-east region, supposedly from the Ripper and taunting the police for their failure to capture him. The message was replayed time and again on the radio and in local shopping centres with requests for information from anyone who recognised the voice.

    Despite police interviews of the actual murderer at least twice, he was not suspected because he didn’t fit the profile of someone from the north-east region. Eventually, he was arrested by freak chance, by a different police force in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, about 30 miles south of his usual stomping grounds, for an apparently unrelated vice crime. In the meantime, there had been several more murder victims in West Yorkshire.

    I’m also reminded of recent commentary in the American media reporting that any incoming intelligence before the Iraq war conflicting with the administration line on the threat from Iraq’s WMD was discarded. Much the same seems to have happened in Britain too. No wonder Blair wants us to forget about the infamous dossiers published by the government with the claim, signed by Blair, that Iraq’s WMD could be used “within 45 minutes.”

  4. “Despite police interviews of the actual murderer at least twice, he was not suspected because he didn’t fit the profile of someone from the north-east region.”

    This is undoubtedly true Bob, but in fairness to me and the PP (we are I hope different!!), we have both in our differing ways corrected.

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the PP intervened in any way to influence the course of the police investigation.

    Angel Acebes appeared before the TV cameras to give information about the discovery of the first audio tape relatively soon after the discovery. As far as I am concerned from this time onwards he has given up-to-date information. And remember I am not expecially sypmpathetic to the PP. I simply feel that a British sense of fairness means I have to say this.

    On the other hand those who oppose the PP have used their informational vulnerability fairly opportunistically in my opinion. It is no good news that this may well be Al Qaeda: yet there are many out there in the streets who seem almost gleeful at the revelation for the discomfort this causes the PP.

    Maybe it can be argued that with eight years of informational arrogance this is deserved. In another moment I would be sympathetic to that view.

    But think of the dead, and think of the magnitude of what lies before us.

  5. “No wonder Blair wants us to forget about the infamous dossiers published by the government with the claim, signed by Blair, that Iraq’s WMD could be used “within 45 minutes.””

    Bob, I think one of the difficulties for anyone here is to make a separation between spin and strategic orientation.

    No doubt you are right, and I will agree with you, that the ‘spin’ of the UK govt over Iraq was not justified. That in fact is why I am outraged with Blair.

    The Eta ‘spin’ which formed part of the PP mindset may have disoriented them given the unique set of circumstances they found themselves in at three days from the elections (this was obviously part of the thinking behind the attack).

    It could well be argued that the PP have played down the danger of an Al Qaeda attack given the unpopularity of their participation in the war here in Spain. I doubt that this could be argued about the security forces in general, who seem to have been pretty focused on these groups.

    So privately they have been taking the threat pretty seriously.

    The only real difficulty for them has been finding themselves in a situation where they needed to change horses in midstream.

    Had this happened a month before the elections I imagine the ‘spin’ would have adapted, and no particular difficulty would have been attached to the PP. After all they can argue, and I think many more will be arguing across Europe, that this indiscriminate terrorism vindicates their stance on Al Qaeda, and their solidarity with the US.

    I mean the opposition party can’t really argue that they want a special truce for Spain with Al Qaeda, and hope the attacks go eg to France or Italy, now can they?

    One point that is being missed in all the talk about the Iraq war is the special connection between Spain and Morrocco. This undoubtedly forms part of the picture.

    In conclusion: if your point is that one’s initial preconceptions can sometimes blind you to another reality. I agree, and mea culpa.

    If it is about ‘spin disorientation’: then I also agree, but show me the country where this doesn’t happen. This is one of the central problems of contemporary politics.

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