You may have missed it in all the holiday excitement, but on December 30th the main Madrid airport (Barajas) was hit by a car bomb. The thing went off a couple of hours after Saddam Hussein was executed, and authorities were warned in advance via telephone, usually a clear indication that the Basque terrorist organization ETA is involved (and the caller said he was calling on behalf of ETA, not that that proves anything). Four people were wounded, two–Ecuadorians in the wrong place at the wrong time–are still missing, presumed dead under rubble. As usual, the wonderful Jose at Barcepundit has the best coverage.
It’s a real blow for comrade Zapatero, the cowardly prime minister who was elected on the backlash of the 3/11 train bombings, who immediately withdrew Spanish forces from Iraq (where they had performed extremely well, by the way), who proclaimed al Qaeda guilty of the train attacks, and then immediately started a Peace Process with ETA. Zapatero is one of those appeasement enthusiasts who yearns for defeat and humiliation at all costs, and just the day before he had triumphantly hailed the great success of his pre-emptive surrender. “Are we better now with a permanent cease-fire or when we had bombs, car bombs and explosions?” He mused in a year-end message to the Spaniards. And he forecast that things would get even better in 2007. Bad luck, and a useful lesson: one shouldn’t prophecy about the peaceful inclinations of terrorists.
So another Peace Process bites the dust. Funny about how often that happens.
Now that things are back to normal in Spain, it’s worth remembering that the distinction between ETA terrorism and al Qaeda terrorism is very much in the eye of the beholder. ETA is part of a broad international network that includes al Qaeda, after all. Back in October, Spanish radio announced that ETA had provided false passports to some of the (al Qaeda) terrorists involved in the assassination of Rabbi Kahane in New York City in 1990, and then later participated in the first World Trade Center bombing (1993).
To give you a sense of the dimensions of the network, this information surfaced in Nicaragua last May, following an explosion in an auto repair facility in Managua. The police found “a veritable weapons supermarket created by ETA operatives,” along with “hundreds of passports from twenty-three countries and blank identity documents from Nicaragua and other countries.” One of the passports contained a photograph of Sayid Nosair, who was convicted for the Kahane murder, and there was evidence of another false passport issued to the infamous Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the WTC bombing. Just for extras, the ETA group in Managua often operated under Cuban control.
Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted the blind sheikh and his buddies for the 1993 attack, tells me that we knew about Nicaraguan passports back then, but it seems the link to ETA is news.
I have long believed that the 9/11 attacks involved the whole network, and that when we finally unravel the plot, we will find that numerous terrorist organizations, not just al Qaeda, and not just Arab, played their part. Among Zapatero’s innumerable blunders, the clean division between al Qaeda and ETA is one of the silliest. He has political motives, of course. But we don’t. We have to keep digging.