Well, little by little the details are getting clearer. According to the Spanish daily El Pais the police now know the identity of six Moroccans who are thought to have participated in Thursday’s bombing.
According to the newspaper one of those responsible is Jamal Zougan from Tangiers who has been identified from photographs by two passengers from one of the bombed trains. These passengers have also identified two more people who accompanied Zougan that day. These latter two are thought by police to have been combatants in Chechenia and Bosnia. Zougan also shared a flat at one time with Abdelaziz Benyaich who is under preventive detention in Spain for his presumed association with the bombing of a Spanish cultural centre in Casablanca last year.
Oh, what a tangled web they weave!
The first point which is worthy of note about this news is its origin: El Pais. This new priviledged source of information reflects the recent change of government (El Pais is associated with the new governing party PSOE, previously government information might have been leaked to the public via El Mundo, which is known for its support for PP). News in Spain is like this.
Secondly the Moroccan connection is confirmed, and seems to imply a further connection via Islamic Jihad with Al Qaeda.
Thirdly the origins of the explosives – remember Goma 2 is manufactured in Spain – seems still to be unknown.
While I am here posting I would like to clarify my post from yesterday. I was backing the Spanish electors (and saying that in my view they are not ‘cowards’) and democracy, not endorsing any particular party.
I understand that Zapatero would wish to negotiate a greater role for the UN, and I agree with him. But if we get to that magic date (30 June), and the consensus formula has not been found – and I dearly hope that it will be – I do not think it would be responsible politics to remove Spanish troops. I think that my understanding of responsible government under democracy is to accept responsibility for the errors of your predecessors, even if you don’t agree with them. Iraq is in chaos, all parties to the intervention have some responsibility for that, and Spain cannot simply up and leave. This, as the Washington Post piece I post below indicates, would only make the job harder for the Poles and the Italians. This would also make the job of destabalising Iraq easier for Al Qaeda. It is a moot point whether Al Qaeda was a serious problem in Iraq before the invasion. It certainly is now, and no one should be thinking of leaving any time soon. Being serious about terrorism in the Spanish context means: solving the Basque ‘problem’, opening a serious and sustained dialogue with Morocco (which would include the future of Ceuta and Melilla and the Sahara – without giving in on this one – the loss of life in the Gibraltar Straits and how to avoid this, and the position of Moroccan immigrants within Spain), and retaining a commitment to Iraq until such time as the country is able to maintain stability for itself. This latter situation I think is years, not months, away.
The beneficiary was Mr. Zapatero, who had promised even before the bombing to withdraw the troops on June 30 unless the force was sanctioned by the United Nations.
Mr. Zapatero could not be expected to alter his view that the original decision to invade Iraq was wrong. But the reaction of Spain, and Europe, to this massive and shocking attack on its soil is crucial — as is its response to the continuing challenge in Iraq. The two are inextricably linked: Whatever the prewar situation, al Qaeda’s tactics now have made explicit the connection between the continuing fight in Iraq and the overall war on terrorism. Mr. Zapatero said his first priority would be to fight terrorism. Yet rather than declare that the terrorists would not achieve their stated aim in slaughtering 200 Spanish civilians, he reiterated his intention to pull out from Iraq in less equivocal terms than before the election.
The incoming prime minister declared the Iraq occupation “a disaster” — yet he didn’t explain how withdrawing troops would improve the situation. Spain’s participation on the ground in Iraq is small, but a Spanish withdrawal will make it harder for other nations, such as Poland and Italy, to stay the course. The danger is that Europe’s reaction to a war that has now reached its soil will be retreat and appeasement rather than strengthened resolve. “It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists,” European Commission President Romano Prodi said yesterday. Should such sentiments prevail, the next U.S. administration — whether led by President Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry — may have no alternative to unilateralism.
Source: Washington Post