International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 12, 2004

March 12, 2004





**  Observers stress the "macabre identification" of Spain's 3/11 with the 9/11 attacks on U.S.

**  Madrid's "massacre" reaffirms the need for a "common front" to defuse the terror threat.

**  Most find the "scale of death and destruction" more likely the work of al-Qaida than ETA.

** Some speculate the attack aims at subverting Spain's "relatively recent democracy."




A September 11 that 'crossed the ocean'; Europe will 'never be the same'--  The bloody massacre on an "innocent railway" in Spain marks a new dimension of terrorism that shows the scourge is "an evil and an issue for all Europe," not only for America.  While Spanish papers were grappling with the shock of the crime and lack of clarity about the suspects, a columnist in Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera concluded that "different enemies have come together in a single subversive operation."  Some right-leaning papers worried that "continental Europeans are not ready for this;" Europe can no longer see terror as an "Arab-American affair," chided Berlin's Die Welt.  Noting the tragedy has "dispelled Europe's illusions" about being immune, Russia's reformist Izvestiya mused: "Hopefully, it will become safer and less arrogant."  But an Israeli editorial more cynically stated: "Welcome to the Europe of the mega-terrorist attack."


Need for a 'united' response and 'calm determination'--  Pledging unequivocal solidarity with Spain, papers in Europe and the Americas urged "the need for a common front against the bacillus of all terrorism," reflecting that "none of us is safe" until the war on terror is won.  As this "concerns us all," declared France's right-of-center Le Figaro, "more than ever the fight against terrorism needs to be everyone's unrelenting objective."  Spain's conservative ABC called for "serenity and calm," while a German paper warned against following "a blind campaign a la George W. Bush."  Given that the attack "redoubles the challenge" among nations to act against terror, Argentine and Brazilian dailies urged the "international community to unite even the fight against the inhumanity" of these terrorist movements.


The 'Al-Qaidazation of terror' in Europe--  In attempting to discern who was behind the massacre, most analysts decided the "unequaled ruthlessness" of the "genocide" bore the trademark of al-Qaida--"specialist in crimes against civilians"-- more than the fingerprint of ETA.  Many were not convinced Spain's PM Aznar provided evidence of ETA involvement.  It was "virtually immediately clear" the attacks "did not bear ETA's signature," a conservative Belgian paper proclaimed: "They very clearly bear the mark of ruthless Muslim terror."  Spain's left-of-center El Pais would judge an attack by al-Qaida a "very worrying consideration," as the "price of the role J.M. Aznar and his government played in the decision to invade Iraq."


A 'cowardly' attack on a 're-democratized' Spain--  Some analysts did not rule out ETA involvement entirely, saying it was "no coincidence" the disaster happened so close to Spain's parliamentary elections at "a time when the future political course will be reset."  Spanish dailies vowed not to allow terror to "direct the political agenda."  France's communist L'Humanite was adamant that if ETA were responsible, "it will signal the end of the [Basque] separatist group."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This report is based on 77 reports from 24 countries, March 11-12.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




SPAIN:  "11-M"


An editorial in left-of-center El Pais argued (3/12):  "The eventuality that this is the work of Al Qaeda and that it is related to the role played by the Aznar government in the war in Iraq introduces a novelty that cannot help but give one a profound sense of disquiet...although the government continues to insist that this is most probably an act of ETA.  One can only hope that this hasn't produced any sort of concealment or manipulation of information by the government, in treating these sorrowful facts which have covered the coming elections with blood,only 72 hours before the election booths open....  The only thing that the terrorists can achieve is to demoralize, and divide democracies....  The terrorists, of whatever stripe, must know they can't win."


"Terrorism In El Pozo"


Left-of-center El Pais Director General Juan Luis Cebrian contended (3/12): "An attack by Al Qaeda against our country and Europe would add a very worrying additional consideration to the political analysis, as the price of the role Jose Maria Aznar and his government played in the meeting in Azores when it was decided to invade Iraq....  We have seen how in countries with immense traditions of democracy how the ripples of an act as horrible as the downing of the Twin Towers has depreciated and mined the credibility of 100-year old institutions, which form the basis for the continuity of a system of liberties.  This should be something the government should reflect on, as it goes before the voters....  Against the enemies of freedom the only possible response is more freedom...we can demonstrate it next Sunday by showing up to vote."


"Terror Without Limits"


Conservative La Razon observed (3/12):  "This March 11 represents for Spain a 'shock' similar to what September 11, 2001 was for the U.S.  The testimonies of solidarity received from all corners of an ever more globalized world must be translated into a solid front facing the killers that is translated in judicial measures of global range....  We can't allow terror to direct the political agenda....  Democracy is much more than going periodically to vote, but placing the ballot in the box is the supreme sign of the freedom."


"Our 9/11"


The independent El Mundo stated (3/12):  “It escapes no one that the political consequences vary radically depending on who is responsible for this attack.  If finally, the authors are from Al Qaeda or one of its satellites, the Ministry of Interior will have committed a grave error in treating as settled that ETA is to blame.  One can’t reproach the government doe not being able to  prevent attacks so terrible...but one could doubt the judgment of the Minister of Interior...if on this occasion he imposed his own prejudices on the facts.”


"From S-11 To M-11"


Jose Antich maintained in centrist La Vanguardia (3/12): "September 11 has in Spain a macabre identification with the March 11 attacks....  We should not concede this victory to the terrorists, be they fanatics of ETA, or of Al Qaeda....  We have to gain the streets back standing with the victims and against the terrorists.  But, in any case, if it is ETA or Al Qaeda that are the perpetrators of the massacre, this country will never be the same."


"Madrid, March 11"


Jon Juaristo wrote in conservative ABC (3/11):  "The worst has happened.  Madrid, like New York, like Jerusalem, like Baghdad and Karbala have had its terrorist holocaust, and from now on nothing can be the same....  ETA and Islamic terrorism are now indistinguishable in their actions.  The massive and indiscriminate killing of citizens:  this is the ground zero of terrorism in our days....  We are at war.  It is a global war between democracy and its enemies."


"With Spain, With The Constitution, With The Victims"


Conservative ABC editorialized (3/11):  "With serenity and calm, conscious of the absolute moral superiority of the Spanish society over the terrorists and their supporters, now is the moment to tell the nationalists that their tribute to terrorism is over.  Bullets and bombs kill, but words, speeches, and plans give support to terrorists as well.  Now is the hour for loyalty to the constitution, without reservations or conditions."


"Our 9/11"


Independent El Mundo commented (3/11):  "The first thing one should highlight is the lack of proportion between the infinite pain these deaths are going to cause and the political return that the criminals are going to get, which is nothing."


"Terror Will Not Prevail"


Conservative La Razon had this to say (3/11):  "There is no hope for these killers.  Not even the brutality of this massacre will change things.  ETA is cornered and has lost the battle politically.  Its killers can only spread more pain.  But that is all."




Left-of-center El País editorialized (3/11):  "The [ETA] terrorists have tried to compensate for their own impotence, caused by the effectiveness of police, judicial and international action against them, with a great slaughter....  In the sick mind of the terrorists Madrid is the equivalent of the Twin towers, the symbol of all the ETA is fighting against."


"Madrid, Zero Tolerance"


Independent El Mundo judged (3/11):  "So that today's events are never forgotten, the [political] parties and the government that will be created after March 14 and which has already been forever marked with the blood shed in Madrid, should make clear to all concerned that there is no room for the hope of those who want to negotiate with murderers.  One should not even suggest the idea that peace can be achieved by talking with terrorists.  If there is anything in the world that might relieve the pain of the victims today and tomorrow is the political commitment that one should not deal with the dead.  A democratic state becomes stronger when its representatives consider that the dead are always theirs."


BRITAIN:  "Atrocity Was Attack On Spanish Democracy, But Will Not Undermine It"


The center-left Independent editorialized (3/12):  “The scale of the death and destruction in the Spanish capital supplied one reason to doubt whether this really was the work of the Basque separatist group, ETA....  One of the more malign aspects of the Madrid attacks is their timing, so close to Spain’s general election.  The proximity suggest that the purpose was not only to drive home the separatists’ point in the most lethal of ways, but to subvert Spain’s relatively recent democracy....  Spain’s outgoing prime minister is to be commended for the dignity and sense of his public response.  He congratulated the emergency services and the many civilians who rushed to the aid of the victims; he was not panicked into unreasoned anti-terrorist rhetoric of the sort that so often reaches us from across the Atlantic, and he pledged that the election would be held as planned.  The millions who will take to the streets this evening in silent protest the killings will demonstrate not only that Spaniards will not be cowed in the face of the terrorist thereat, but that their democracy is sound and secure.”


"Spain And Beyond"


The conservative Times commented (3/12):  “The very fact that in the Madrid bombings suspects other than ETA cannot yet be ruled out shows the need for a common front against the bacillus of all terrorism.  There are legitimate differences within Europe on how to deal with the intractable issues of regional autonomy, minority rights--be they Basques or Kurds--ethnic rivalries and social issues such as abortion and animal rights.  What must be clear to all voters throughout Europe, old and new, is that the common enemy is terrorism.  Spanish voters must definitely send that message to those who have murdered indiscriminately with the aim of intimidating a nation.”


"Terrorist Tactics Cannot Triumph"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (3/12):  “The bloody massacre of at least 190 innocent railway passengers caused by the terrorist bombs in Madrid yesterday is a terrible reminder of man’s insanity to man.  No political cause, however desperate, can justify such actions.  The only possible purpose must have been to create the maximum public panic and confusion just three days before Spain’s general election.  The most effective answer to such brutality is therefore calm determination....  Mr. Aznar has refused to countenance demands for more autonomy from the 17 regional authorities.  In so doing he has alienated moderate Basque nationalists who are fierce opponents of the violent tactics of ETA....  But ETA, if proved responsible for the massacre, will have forfeited any right to a seat at the table."


FRANCE:  "Help For Spain"


Pierre Rousselin wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/12):  “More than ever the fight against terrorism needs to be everyone’s unrelenting objective....  The tragedy that has hit Spain may be linked to al-Qaida terrorism, with a terrorist attack targeting one of Washington’s principal allies in Iraq.  Whoever is behind the attacks, we cannot say that this business does not concern us all....  If it is proven that the ETA is responsible, Spain will have every right to expect more support from France.  If al-Qaida turns out to be behind it, cooperation between our two countries will be just as necessary.  Nothing is as disturbing as not knowing where the enemy lies.”




Gerard Dupuy held in left-of-center Liberation (3/12):  “There are no words to express one’s horror....  There is no proof of ETA’s responsibility or of al-Qaida....  But Islamic terrorism is at the least a moral co-perpetrator of these crimes.  One of the secondary consequences of 9/11 is...that for groups seeking international notoriety, the price of human lives has steadily dropped, as was evident in Bali and yesterday in Madrid.  This massive bombing is more in keeping with the methods used by al-Qaida than with those of ETA.  But before the perpetrators are even identified, we can already say with certainty that this carnage will re-enforce the popularity of those who fight against terrorism.”


"A Spanish September 11"


Francois Xavier Pietri maintained in centrist La Tribune (3/12):  “Yesterday’s bombings which Spanish editorialists are already calling ‘Spain’s September 11’ is a reminder that the Spanish model built by Aznar is a fragile one.  Beyond Spain it is all of Europe that suddenly remembered that the terrorist threat remains very much alive, as illustrated by the uniform fall of European markets.  Just when confidence was beginning to show in people’s minds, still very much affected by the syndrome of the U.S. tragedy and the war in Iraq.”




Bruno Frappat noted in Catholic La Croix (3/12):  “Sometimes, when confronted with the forces of evil, the only words that come to mind are obscenities....  In the face of such horror we want to scream ‘bastards’ along with the families of victims and all those who reject the infernal logic of murderers....  Whoever they are, they acted with method and premeditation.  We must imagine them as they picked the most crowded of suburban trains....  Whether they are followers of al-Qaida sending a farewell message to Aznar or more probably members of ETA, their methods and the finality of their acts are the same....  New York 2001, Madrid 2004:  the same bastardly logic at work.”




Claude Cabanes opined in communist l’Humanite (3/12):  “This massacre is one of the most horrendous tragedies suffered by a European capital since the Second World War....  This has the mark of a perfectly structured organization, with very effective material, financial and human logistics working behind the scene....  If it is proven that the ETA is behind these bombings, it will signal the end of the separatist group.  Its men are fanatics who have adopted a nationalism worthy of primitive tribalism.”


GERMANY:  "Terror Attacks"


D. Borchers commented on regional radio stations Westdeutscher Rundfunk of Cologne and Norddeutscher Rundfunk of Hamburg (3/11):  "Whoever is responsible for the massacre in Madrid, March 11 marks a new dimension of terrorism in Europe.  All those governments in Europe should take note of it that have considered regional conflicts like the one in the Basque country or in Northern Ireland more or less as the smaller evil."


"March 11"


Jochen Wieland commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/12):  "Democratic Spain by no means stands on the abyss, the arc of those who signal a mood that shows the willingness for self-defense ranges from a conciliatory King Juan Carlos over acting Prime Minister Jose Aznar to the top candidates of all parties.  Spain may be the only and last country in the EU that is still exposed to such a threat by strange sources based on an antiquated ethnic nationalism.  All comparisons with Northern Ireland, Corsica, or the Balkans will be flawed if the mentality and rationality in the minds of Basque extremists are involved.  Modern Spain with its moderate political climate, its prosperity, and its deliberate European identity will be able to cope with it despite all barbarities."


"Spain's 9/11"


Peter Burghardt judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/12):  "This March 11 will make an imprint on Spain's memory like 9/11/01 made an imprint on the memory of United States and the world.  And we must fear that the implications will be the same.  These bombings took place not only shortly before the parliamentary elections but also at a time when the offensive of the rule of law [against ETA] was at least superficially successful.  ETA seemed to be capable of acting only to a limited degree...and it was certainly no coincidence that the disaster hit Spain in a week, in which the future political course will be reset....  The terror of the ETA cannot be explained with rational arguments.  This tragedy has no religious reference like violence in Northern Ireland, which can only dream of the autonomy the Basque country enjoys.  Almost 29 years after the death of Spain's dictator Franco, the Basque region enjoys greater rights than even a land in Germany.  At best 50 percent of the Basques are interested in independence, and only a minority supports the ETA....  This March 11 makes us stunned.  But the reaction should not be a blind campaign a la George W. Bush.  Intelligence services, and justice authorities are now required to do even more than they did in the past to stop terrorism, but they will hardly be able to stop terrorist activities with its perfidious means all by themselves.  It is not possible to negotiate with murderers, but it is absolutely necessary to resume the dialogue with moderate forces to isolate ETA.  Spain cannot guard every city council and every commuter train."


"Terror As Massacre"


Jacques Schuster argued in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/12):  "What we are experiencing in Spain is the al-Qaidazation of terror in Europe, the copy of the tactic of violence invented by Islam that does not know a goal like the ouster of a government, but which finds its satisfaction in the biggest possible suffering, in the worst chaos.  Europe's societies will have to adjust to this form of terror.  They must expect bombings that could not be more painful, ranging from the use of biological weapons to the 'dirty' bombs.  Germans, Spaniards all continental Europeans are not ready for this.  They consider terror an Arab-American affair.  The bombings from Madrid may now lead to banishing this kind of thinking to the empire of illusions."


"The Handwriting Of Evil"


Christoph von Marschall had this to say in a front-page editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/12):  "Again a wave of horror is spreading around the globe--as it happened following the attacks in New York and Washington, on German tourist at a synagogue in Jerba, vacationers at a discotheque in Bali, and the inner cities of Istanbul and Riyadh.  The pictures of the scenes of the crime filled with blood, the screams of the wounded people, the tears of relatives will note leave anybody unmoved; they demand our sympathy.  But the terror of Madrid also carries the fear to Europe, which has thus far been spared from crimes of such dimension.  It has the extent of al-Qaida's crimes.  Europe has never witnessed a mega bombing with so many victims.  It experienced terror.  But ten bombs whose explosion was closely coordinated and this without any previous warning, this is new for Europe, new for Spain."


"Cowardly Attacks"


Center-right Leipziger Volkszeitung concluded (3/12):  "Security experts have warned for along time against terrorist being inclined to chose targets that can easily be bombed --like now the commuter trains in Madrid.  This is why the strategy papers of the terrorists increasingly include hotels, railway stations, passenger ships, and shopping malls as potential targets.  Then it does not make a difference whether the criminals are from ETA or must be sought among Islamic extremists from al Qaida's nature.  The terrorists' calculation is always the same:  they want to disrupt the peaceful co-existence of society.  These coward and insidious attacks aim at creating fear, chaos, instability and havoc."


ITALY:  "The War In Europe"


Leading foreign affairs commentator Sergio Romano opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (3/12): “We still don’t know who is behind the attacks in Madrid, but we know that one of the possibilities could be a ‘joint ETA and Al Qaeda operation’ - between Basque and Islamic terrorism. That’s not hard to imagine.… Yesterday’s date will in many aspects be more important than September 11. The war has shifted to Europe and different enemies have come together in a single subversive operation. They will not win, because they will be met with resistance by a democratic society whose foundation is being threatened. But this European war will have to be fought by the Union with much more unity and solidarity than it has shown in recent months. We will decide later if what happened yesterday is a result of the Iraqi war that should have been fought with other instruments. But for the time being, let’s limit ourselves to noting that this is a new war, our war, and that it must be fought.”


"Our Own September 11"


Prominent commentator Barbara Spinelli judged in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (3/12):  “Up until the end, Aznar’s government believed that ETA, the Basque terrorist organization, was behind the terrifying explosions in Madrid. But such horror could not have been the doing of those minds.… [This attack] seems to be more and more the work of Al Qaeda, which is an unequaled specialist in crimes against civilians.  According to London-based daily Al Quds, Al Qaeda has already claimed responsibility for the attacks.… Frightened by the idea that it could be a European September 11 on the eve of Sunday’s elections, Aznar did everything he could yesterday to dismiss thoughts pointing to [of Al Qaeda].… This was a September 11 that crossed the ocean, and that landed in our homeland.… Along with Great Britain, Spain is a bridge that unites the U.S. with those European states that decided to show their alliance to Washington in the dual battle against terrorism and to change Islam in the world.… We are at a turning point. Terrorism is now an evil and an issue for all of Europe, and not only for America.”


"From September 11 To March 11"


Khaled Fouad Allam judged in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (3/12): “If the claim is authentic...not only are we witnessing an escalation of the conflict, but the emerging of an extremely meticulous strategy and a widespread terrorist network that are capable of moving from one point of the globe to another or to lean on the notorious sleeping cells that have the ability to attack and strike at any given moment. It’s obvious that these networks, which may have a fragmented appearance, must answer to a central command and this command is not necessarily Bin Laden, who could just be one of the links--although important--of the chain. So this central command must exist somewhere, but we don’t know where. On a European political level, if this attack is attributed to Islamic terrorism, there is a risk that the conflict between Muslim communities and the Europeans will flare up.… As is already the case in Great Britain, this kind of terrorism in Europe will weaken our democratic assets because we will have to resort to exceptional measures through an unprecedented judicial apparatus.”


"Spain, The Massacre At the Polling Stations"


Siegmund Ginzberg noted in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) daily L’Unità (3/12): “They clearly wanted to emulate Al Qaeda and the mass murder of innocent civilians in New York’s Twin Towers. Now Europe, too, has its September 11. But one cannot imagine that the terrorists’ emulation will be met with an emulation of George Bush’s response to the terrorist attack in America. And it won’t be met with an emulation of Vladimir Putin’s response to Chechen independence. The only possible analogy is in the atrocity of terrorism, not in the way we respond to it. Military solutions are simply not possible. What should they [the Spaniards] do? Bomb and occupy the Basque Country?… Why did someone decide to carry out an attack only three days before the elections? This question is not only pertinent to Spain.… U.S political commentators unanimously maintain that the presidential race between Bush and John Kerry in November will greatly depend on possible ‘surprises’, like a new clamorous terrorist attack, or on the contrary, a clamorous success in the fight against terrorism, like the capture of Osama Bin Laden.”


"The Massacre And The Response”


An editorial in elite, classical liberal daily Il Foglio (3/12): “There is only one consolation in the agony of Madrid - terrorism has lost and this is why it has raised the ante. It has even marred its military protocols and it tends to separate itself from its social and national context and it carries out its attacks randomly. It’s only objective is fear, resignation and surrender by the society.... But that’s an unreachable goal in a country where the two countries alternating in the government have stipulated a pact whose aim it is to keep the exploitation of attacks and their consequences out of the political battle. Behind this pact lie a vital society, a strong political system, and a free and vigilant press.… A Spanish newspaper has made a rational appeal to its readers: do not change your vote on Sunday according to the feelings that this attack has brought out. Don’t allow ETA to modify the course of things.… A free vote will erase the dismal influence of terrorism: a great social and political effort will bury the pain of the massacre.”


RUSSIA:  "Europe Will Never Be The Same"


Maksim Yusin said on the front page of reformist Izvestiya (3/12):  "To Europe, March 11, 2004, has become what September 11, 2001, is to America.  A shock.   A divide.  The Madrid blasts are bound to change the Old World.  It turns out that European terror is no better or more humane than Asian or Islamic terror.  The methods may be different but the essence is the same.  The effects are the same, too--hundreds of innocent victims, helpless authorities, confusion among special services.  More importantly, there is no guarantee that this won't happen again.  Europe will never be what it used to be before March 11.  By blowing up Spanish railway terminals, terrorists have dispelled Europe's illusions, making it less naïve and complacent.  Hopefully, it will become safer and less arrogant.  How has 3/11 affected European politicians, deputies, human rights advocates, and journalists?  Will they continue to insist that Moscow should sit down at the negotiating table with those who raided Daghestan and bombed Russian cities?"


"How To Stop A Monster"


Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (3/12):  "President Bush urges joint effort in the war on al-Qaida.  As blasts come one after another, the world's leaders clench their fists and swear to get the bastards, each time declaring a war on the evil.  The global 'war party,' from Bush to Sharon to Aznar, increasingly sets the tone in international politics, their slogan being 'no talks with terrorists.'  But that does not help. In fact, terrorist acts grow in number and acquire a new quality.  They are no longer the Red Brigades' pin-prick attacks of the 1960s and 1970s but 9/11-type mega-actions....  The trouble is that what is being done to kill the monster more often than not has nothing to do with a real war on terrorism.  Herein lies the problem and it explains the ongoing rampage.  Do you call the operation in Iraq fighting terror?  The result of that operation is obvious:  a country that was closed to international terrorism has within a year become its chief spawning ground.  This is the kind of war that morally justifies and attaches legitimacy to the strong trying unabashedly to bend the will of or subjugate the weak.  Acting that way, you can't tell a real thing from an imitation."


"It's More Like Al Qaida Than ETA"


Andrey Zlobin wrote on page one of reformist Vremya Novostey (3/12): "Yesterday's blood-curdling reports from Madrid bring back the memory of the2001 terrorist attacks.   It happened three days before the parliamentary elections, which will eventually name a new Spanish Prime Minister.   The bombing looked like ETA's response to Spain's ruling Popular Party being all for an uncompromising struggle against terrorists.  The blasts were peculiarly inhumane and characteristic more of Al Qaida than ETA.   It must be the same people, the leaders of a world-wide terror corporation, who stood behind both the 9/11 and 3/11 attacks."


AUSTRIA:  "Madrid Is Crying"


Senior columnist Ernst Trost wrote in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (3/12):  “They were daydreaming about the victory of Real Madrid against Bayern Munich, reading the sports papers, speculating on the upcoming elections, simply dozing, or preparing to get off the train.  There is nothing more ordinary than a commuting trip to work in the morning.  None of them knew that they had already been sentenced to death by criminals who didn’t even know their names or faces; didn’t want to know them.  The mass murderers only obey the law of terror--it doesn’t matter who gets killed, as long as the toll of lives is high.  The only thing the victims did ‘wrong’ was to board a certain train at a certain time--the banal choice of carriage and seat decided whether they were to live or die....  Terror al-Qaida style has struck again.  While Madrid and the whole of Spain are mourning the victims, somewhere the killers are enjoying the TV images and congratulating themselves on their

‘success.’  It is hardly possible to imagine what goes on in such sick brains.”


"A Bloodbath With Consequences"


Christoph Winder noted in liberal  Der Standard (3/12):  “Cui bono?  This is the question we must ask in trying to find our way through the labyrinthine background of terrorist attacks, especially as the attackers themselves did not deem it necessary to provide us with hints about their identity.  In the case of the devastating bombing attack of Madrid, a possible guilty party is easily found, and the Spanish government has immediately seized on the Basque ETA group as the perpetrators....  However, there is a possibility that ETA was not responsible for the bombings, but Islamist-fundamentalist attackers in Bin Laden’s orbit--maybe to ‘punish’ the Spanish Prime Minister Aznar for supporting the U.S. in the war against Iraq.  The randomness of choosing the victims points in this direction, as does the unequalled ruthlessness, which rules out even the faintest ‘rational’--in as far as this word can be applied in such a context--connection between the type of attack, the number of victims, and a discernible political aim.  One thing is becoming increasingly clear after the disaster of Madrid:  Europe must do whatever it can to fight the barbarism of terror, in all its forms, and with all vehemence.  This is not a new realization, but one that cannot be repeated too often.”


"The Massacre They Wanted"


Foreign correspondent Friederike Leibl wrote in centrist daily Die Presse (3/12):  “The first law of terror is timelessness.  If not today and here, then tomorrow and somewhere else.  This is not about bringing about negotiations, or pursuing concrete goals, but about causing chaos, suffering, and cruelty.  The terrorists of Madrid have taken over the al-Qaida pattern for drawing attention to themselves:  politicians and institutions are no longer the target; the civilian population is.”


BELGIUM:  "Madrid Bombings"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn wrote in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (3/12):  "If the massacres are the work of ETA it means that the Basque terrorist movement has not been defeated and that, in the eyes of ETA, Aznar has no reason to celebrate now that his term is coming to an end.  If the perpetrators are Arab terrorists it means that they want to punish Aznar for Spain's significant support to America's Iraq policy.  In both cases the outcome is already clear: the attacks will yield a certain victory for the Partido Popular next Sunday....The truth is that the attacks were directed against Spanish democracy--and, consequently, against all democratic governments.  That makes the democracies' task all the more difficult: this kind of terror must never prevail."




Chief commentator Luc Van der Kelen opined in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (3/12):  "Once more the attacks took place on the 11th of the month.  Between the attacks in New York...and Madrid there are exactly 911 days--from September 12, 2001 to March 10, 2004.   911 is 9/11 is September 11.  People like Osama bin Laden use such symbols to add an almost godly element to their actions.  It is part of their perverse minds.  Spanish Prime Minister Aznar hurried to hold ETA responsible...but he did not give any evidence.  Yet, it was virtually immediately clear to independent observers that the attacks did not bear ETA's signature....  They very clearly bear the mark of ruthless Muslim terror.  It was total destruction like in the Bali discotheque--the grave of many Australians, another ally of America in Iraq.  Japan, Poland, Italy and England should start their own countdown and wait for their turn.  911 days from now?"


"Modern Terror"


Deputy chief editor Bart Sturtewagen wrote in Christian-Democrat De Standaard (3/12):  "With the simultaneous bomb attacks in three train stations in Madrid, Europe has entered the era of modern, large-scale terror.  America was woken up on September 11, 2001.  Spain and Europe (were woken up) exactly two and a half years later, on March 11, 2004....  Giving in to terror is not an option.  But, restricting democratic principles to fight terror is a dangerous choice.  It even does not guarantee more security.  Europe was to expect heavy attacks from Islamic movements.  Today, domestic terrorism seems to be following new paths.  The greatest nightmare is that both (ETA and al-Qaida) would find each other in a despicable objective alliance.  We probably have not reached that stage yet, but the gigantic impact of yesterday's attacks can be catalyst.  How such a many-headed monster should be destroyed is an unanswerable question."


"March 11"


Foreign affairs writer Marc Van de Weyer remarked in conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (3/12):  "In the most difficult hour of his term nobody wanted to criticize Aznar...for the certainty with which he held ETA responsible for the bloodiest attacks in Spain's history, but the rest of Europe wondered where his certainty came from.  Last evening, the facts began to urge for more caution:  the first elements in the investigation of the attacks in the heart of a European metropolis pointed into a completely different direction.  Is Madrid's March 11, like New York's September 11, an act of Islamic fascists?  Are the attacks the bill that Spain has to pay for its position in the Iraq war--a resolute pro-war position, on the side of the Americans and the British?  It does not matter who is responsible for the bloodbath in Madrid--ETA murderers with an immoral vision on Basque patriotism, or Muslim fanatics who took revenge against the 'Andalusian' crusaders.  It does not change a thing to the perverse character of their act."


"Retalitation For Spanish Troops In Iraq?"


Foreign editor Jean Vanempten held in financial daily De Tijd (3/12):  "Aznar won't like to hear it, but the attacks may be an act of retaliation for Spain's position during the war in Iraq.  Spain fully supported America's approach and sent troops to Iraq.  In any case, the attacks show that blind terror can barely be stopped.  Increased security measures are in force--in the framework of the upcoming parliamentary elections--and, nevertheless, terrorists succeed in hiding 13 bombs in trains and stations.  What is possible in Spain is possible elsewhere in Europe.  That is a horrifying thought....  Just like U.S. President George Bush, Aznar opts for an unyielding war on terror.  Today, Aznar is forced to conclude that that is not enough.  Security must be won in the field.  As of now, the Spanish people will have to live with the traditional aspects of the war against terrorism.  That means fewer civil rights in exchange for more security.  But, that is no guarantee that a new bloodbath like that of March 11 can be prevented."


"Europe's 9/11"


Patrick Dath-Delcambe wrote in tabloid La Derniere Heure (3/12):  "Exactly two years and six months after the New York attacks awoke the world to the threat of terrorism, the danger is still as present:  whoever committed yesterday's ignominious attacks, this 3/11 will be remembered as a black day.  If it were, indeed, al-Qaida that was behind these attacks, it would be even scarier than if it were the ETA, because it would mean that Western democracies are far from having won the fight against terrorism....  If al-Qaida is the author of yesterday's massacre, the nightmare is only at the beginning, and Europe has a ringside seat."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Everybody Can Become A Target"


Adam Cerny wrote in business Hospodarske noviny (3/12):  "Seeing the hundreds of dead or wounded in Madrid, the first question that jumps to mind is “Who did this?”  The kind of explosive that caused the blast points to Basque separatists.  While resorting to violent action was comprehensible in the time of Franco’s dictatorship, with liberation of the country in the 1970s violence by separatists lost its justification.  The alternative that the attack was committed by Al Qaeda is more terrifying.  Anybody in the democratic world can become a target for terrorists, as was proved in Washington, New York,  Madrid and also in the Paris metro in 1995.  The dead and wounded after all assassinations of this kind show that it’s easy to harm people living in democracy.  However, it should not be taken as evidence of the weakness of democracy as a concept."


"New Manhattan"


Pavel Verner wrote in center-left daily Pravo (03/12):  "The Spanish police detained a car with 500kg of explosives earlier this month.  The Spanish Interior Minister praised the police for a job well done in preventing a terrorist attack.  Ever since yesterday we know that the police were not successful, as other cars loaded with explosives obviously did cross the Spanish borders.  Also, we in the Czech Republic arrested two smugglers who managed to get 328 tons of plastic explosives into the country.   Knowing what happened in Madrid, one gets the shivers.  The Madrid massacre confirmed that to rid the world of terrorism is impossible, as the very diagnosis is undefined.  Terrorism must be destroyed before it destroys our civilization through cowardly assassinations.  What can you think in this context of the Czech communists who want to challenge the cabinet's decision to send a mission to Afghanistan in the Constitutional Court?"


HUNGARY:  "Caught Up In the World"


Leading Nepszabadsag editorialized (3/12):  "Expected, though still dramatic was the terror attack yesterday also because the [European] continent's illusion that 'we can probably escape it' is now gone.  And also because Europe's dilemmas are going to be even more serious than the dilemmas of the United States after 9/11.  Europe will spend much more money and personnel on various world commandoes that will chase the enemy in Asia, Africa and anywhere else (under American leadership) in caves and in gopher holes.  This is how things stand in Europe right now.  As regards Hungary it is now part of the West too.  No, we're not going to be a main target of blind terror, we're just too small for that.  But neither can we be safe in such a world, because we can't run away from the world.  And we can't run away from our duties of an ally either.  We are here again, caught up in a new, dangerous world."


"Spanish And Hungarians"


Laszlo Szentesi Zoldi judged in right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (3/12):  "One thing is sure, the causes and motivations of the new kind of violence that threatens the world should be sought on the shore of the Euphrates river.  Or more precisely the demonstration of American power and the occupation of Iraq have turned the terror loose, not only around the globe but in our backyard as well.  Europe has been more or less peaceful so far.  Beyond the brutality of the attacks the Madrid bombing is a turning point also from the psychological point of view.  The mysterious perpetrator's message is that from now on, the nations of the ancient world have also become part of the global game.  Now it can be clearly seen the great risk the Hungarian parliamentary parties have taken by becoming involved in the Iraqi adventure, since almost all of them agree that they have to continue to play the role assigned to Hungary in the Iraqi hell.  The Medgyessy government has made Hungary the target of violence and we have become, against our own will, involved in a worldwide crusade."


IRELAND:  "Madrid Bombings--Disgusting Attack On Democracy"


The left-of-center Irish Examiner held (3/12):  "It was an outrageous, disgusting and cowardly blow against democracy....  It represents a blow against the very heart of the democratic process at a time when the bonds of unity are being strengthened across Europe....  The indomitable spirit of the Spanish people was also manifest as, within hours of the atrocity, thousands took to the streets in a spontaneous outpouring of protest, leaving no room for doubt about the extent of public abhorrence at this madness....  We should never lose sight of the close links between ETA and the IRA. There can be no denying that frightening parallels are to be found in the murky connections between the terrorist organisations. In a perverse way, their malign interests have been interwoven down the years....  Despite reports that ETA has apparently been growing weaker in recent times, yesterday’s bomb attack underlines the capacity of a small number of extremists to strike at vulnerable targets with repercussions far beyond their numerical strength....  As Ireland and the world join Spain in mourning, March 11 will for ever be etched in the memory of the Spanish people as yet another terrifying example of man’s endless capacity to create hell on earth in the perverse name of a blind political agenda.”

"Massacre In Madrid"

The center right Irish Independent asserted (3/12):  "Initially, most fingers were pointing at the Basque separatist group, ETA. If it was ETA, then the terrorist outrage represents a significant change in tactics for the group....  Some evidence last night suggested a link with Al-Qa'ida. Certainly the co-ordinated and extraordinarily brutal manner of the attacks is a hallmark of that organisation. In addition, Al-Qa'ida would have reason to target Spain which has been a staunch ally of the U.S. in the war against terror.  It is hard to comprehend what ETA could possibly hope to gain from such an atrocity. Spain is nearing the end of an election campaign with the ruling centre-right Popular Party due to return to power after making ETA a target of a vigorous anti-terrorism campaign. This bombing would surely have neither of the effects ETA would wish. For a start, it is more rather than less likely to result in the re-election of the Popular Party, and it certainly would not bring an independent Basque state any closer.  Whatever its culpability in this atrocity, ETA's campaign is entirely disproportionate to what it is trying to achieve. It is not as though the Basque people live under oppressive and dictatorial rule any longer.…  We must all hope that the Spanish authorities apprehend those responsible for this atrocity as soon as possible, and that the perpetrators are put out of business once and for all.”


KOSOVO:  "Europe’s Indifference To...Terrorism Allowed A 9/11 To Hit Spain"


Pro-LDK, mass circulation Bota Sot commentator Elida Bucpapaj argued (3/12): “When international terrorism hit the USA on September 11, 2001, it seemed that the conscience of the international institutions and European statesmen managed to realize the danger that threatened Europe itself; because when America was being hit this attack was not against America only but also against the democracy as a political system. But not too long after that, Europe forgot September 11 and began losing time with its bureaucracy, began to feel compassion for miserable dictators like Saddam, instead of joining the USA in a frontal attack on the international terrorism and prevent other terrorist attacks.... Immediately after the tragedy in Madrid (where hundreds of common people lost their lives) many politicians, European and world institutions condemned verbally this macabre act....  Today Europe is divided more than ever, at the very time it should be united more than ever before....  The international terrorism today is the common enemy of all mankind. It should be uprooted.  One should not express sentimentalism or tolerance towards it for the terrorism does not show any mercy for common people; for it kills and exterminates in New York, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad. It kills Catholics, Moslems, Hebrews, Protestants....  Instead of telling the Europeans about the danger they are in, Europe’s bureaucracy, these bureaucrats lied to their people by saying that the threat was coming from the USA or George W. Bush. Stop such lies. Today 186 common people lost their lives in Madrid. They were not involved in politics, they were just catching trains to go to work....  It was said that the European Union has lowered its flag at half-mast. For these 186 victims symbolism is not enough. These 186 victims seek justice. Justice, not in words but acts. To expunge the Killers of Life.”




Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (3/12):  "Thursday's bomb attacks spread death and destruction in Madrid and spread rage, horror, and indignation in the entire world....  There is no clarity about the suspects.  If the ETA is indeed responsible, then these attacks at the eve of Spanish elections are a major blow to outgoing Prime Minister Aznar....  However, the magnitude and timing of the attacks, exactly two-and-a-half years after the September 11 attacks and roughly one year after the beginning of the war in Iraq, raise questions about possible al-Qaida involvement....  But even if it turns out that the attackers do not maintain direct ties with international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, they have been clearly inspired by them given the method used and the magnitude of the attacks.  The fact that this 'terror inflation' has now also reached the European continent, is an ominous development--also for the Netherlands."


"Do Not Give In To Terror"


Left-of-center Trouw remarked (3/12):  "Both Spain AND Europe have been struck in the heart by the appalling bloodbath in Madrid.  Never before in post-war history did so many Europeans die in a terrorist attack....  It is good that Spain is not giving in to terrorism and continues holding elections this Sunday.  There will be uncertainty about who is responsible for the attacks for some time to come....  If it were indeed the ETA then these attacks show a shocking change of ETA strategy....  However, we should not rule out al-Qaida or another international terrorist group.  This would not/not make the attacks any less horrible, not for Spain but certainly not for Europe."




Centrist Algemeen Dagblad commented (3/12):  "The ten bomb attacks gave Spanish voters ten extra reasons to go vote this Sunday....  Given the timing of the wave of terror in the Spanish capital of Madrid--the eve of the elections--the attack cannot be seen other than an attack on democracy.  It does not matter whether the suspects are to be found with the ETA or with al-Qaida.  Both organizations have one and the same objective:  cause as much damage as possible to Spanish society....  The excessive use of violence places any organization responsible outside of the international community and leaves us with only one response:  they must be fought."




Conservative De Telegraaf editorialized (3/12):  "Those responsible for the terror attacks have lost their right to a place in society.  The attacks, whoever committed them with whatever motives, make no sense and are cowardly.  They make no sense because they would not force any democratic government to change its policy and they are cowardly because they were aimed at defenseless men, women, and children....  These kind of terror attacks demand tough international retaliation and those responsible must be hunted down; not only to avenge the victims but also to prevent future attacks."


POLAND:  "Spain’s September 11"


Malgorzata Tryc-Ostrowska wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (3/12):  “There is much to indicate that the same organization stands behind the March 11 and September 11 attacks....  It may not matter to the relatives of the victims whether their loved ones were killed by the criminals from ETA or from al-Qaida.  It does matter to us, though.  As cynical as it may sound, an attack by ETA can be seen as an internal problem for the Spaniards.  An attack by al-Qaida is entirely different.  The masterminds dubbed the Madrid operation the ‘train of death.’  Poland may find itself on its track.”


"Just To Kill"


Maciej Stasinski opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (3/12):  “The associations are obvious:  the trains were ripped apart by almost simultaneous explosions, as the planes were on September 11.  Just to kill.  The more innocent the human beings, the better.  Was it al-Qaida, that wanted to punish Spain for its alliance with the U.S., and for Iraq?...  Or perhaps the aim this time is not to say who attacked and why.  That way no one can be sure about the next day, and so fear and chaos will reign in the West.”


"In Solidarity With Spain"


Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski wrote in tabloid Fakt (3/12):  “Today terrorists hit in Spain.  Tomorrow their treacherous bombs can explode somewhere else....  Therefore, we should support the fight on terror even more decisively.  We cannot demand that [Poland] withdraw from the global anti-terrorist coalition....  We must be aware that our troops chasing after terrorists in Iraq are in fact protecting us.  They are doing all they can to make sure that bombs do not explode in Krakow, Gdansk, or Warsaw.  The response to terror must be firm.  It is also our, Poland’s, duty.”


SWEDEN:  "Terror Against The Open Society"


Right-of-center independent Dagens Nyheter editorialized (3/12):  “The worrying question still hangs in the air:  is the world in the process of seeing the formation of a terrorist international?  People with different agendas cooperating with terror attacks as their common signature, helping each other with techniques, knowledge, and material?...  Presented with this lack of certainty and our fear, we have only the security services to trust.  This is a dangerous situation.  Security services operate with their own logic, and their nature is as secretive as those who attack us.  Thus, they stand in tension with democracy’s desire for openness, debate and alternatives....   There is, over the long term, apprehension for Western countries.  In a number of places, and particularly in the United States, the reaction to terror has been to encroach on citizen’s freedom and rights. This holds the seeds of a catastrophe:  because terrorist attacks are aimed at our lifestyle, every intervention in citizens’ lives and every new layer of surveillance is a step in the wrong direction.  From the open to the closed society.”




ISRAEL:  "Madrid Is Not The End Of Terrorism's Road"


Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/12):  "Whether Thursday's terrorist attack in Madrid was the work of the Basque underground or of another terrorist organization, such as al-Qaida--or perhaps even a collaborative effort -- it is clear that the massacre at the train station in Spain's capital was modeled after acts by al-Qaida, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their ilk:  a massive terror attack against innocent civilians in the name of an ideology or political demand....  Israelis can empathize with the horror and anguish experienced yesterday by residents of Madrid.  The irony is that the Spanish media has for the last several years shown 'understanding' for Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians in public places, on buses and in railway stations, and has even justified such attacks.  But no political demand, however justified it might be, justifies such acts of mass murder....  Thus anyone who objects to what the terrorists did Thursday in Madrid cannot at the same time justify or overlook similar acts of terror against other nations."


"Welcome To The Real World"


Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever Plotker wrote on page one of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/12):  "Welcome to the Europe of mega-terrorist attacks.  First there was September 11.  Now there is also March 11.  Between one and the other, citizens of Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey, Russia and Iraq were massacred in mass terror attacks.  But Western Europe, for some reason, thought itself protected.  Immune.  It won't happen to us, the Europeans said, we are not in terror's gun sights.  After all, we are not part of imperialistic America or Russian imperialism and Zionist imperialism.  We are enlightened, post-modern, progressive....  Now it has happened to them too....  People ask, why should al-Qaida, or some organization affiliated with it, slaughter civilians in Madrid commuting to work?  Experts are quick to respond:  it is because of Spain's participation in the war in Iraq....  The game of motive guessing leads nowhere.  There is no logic here, what there is is seizing opportunities to murder as many people as possible.  Let us pay attention to what British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a prophetic speech a week ago:  he said that for him, September 11 was a day of epiphany.  He realized that zealots had declared unlimited war on our world....  Europe still refuses to internalize what happened.  It still refuses to open its eyes wide and to accept the fact that as of this morning, every trip by any child to any school in Europe on public transportation is a trip into the heart of darkness, filled with fear and trembling.  In Madrid as in Jerusalem."




JAPAN:  "U.S. To Restructure Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy?"


Washington correspondent Kondo wrote in the conservative Sankei (3/12):  "A series of indiscriminate terrorist bombings in Madrid on Thursday, which claimed the lives of more than 180 people, is also having a great impact on the Bush administration, which has been leading the global war on terror since the 9/11 simultaneous terrorist attacks on the U.S. ...  The latest Madrid bombings, believed to be the worst terrorist attack ever in Spain, may be serious enough to shake the foundations of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.  The Bush administration will undoubtedly be forced to restructure its global counter-terrorism strategy, which is designed to

prevent 9/11 type attacks."   




CANADA:  "Spain Demonstrates That The War On Terror Must Be Fought"


Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and Mail (Internet version, 3/12):  "It is no mystery why Spain was the target of yesterday's terror attacks, which killed nearly 200 people in Madrid. The government of Jose Maria Aznar, the outgoing Prime Minister, is one of the world's staunchest foes of terrorism....  Like Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, Mr. Aznar understands the nature of the enemy and why it is impossible to duck this fight.... There is no alternative to the defence of liberty, democracy and the values that define our way of life....  Spain's high-profile stand in this war may well have made it a target.... If the past few years have proved anything, it is that there is no place to hide in the age of terrorism....  Today, ETA's tactics are reviled by most Basques, and even its goal of independence is supported by less than a third of them. With their own police force and schooling in their own language, Basques cannot remotely claim to be an oppressed group, and most seem to know it. The Basque government enjoys wide autonomy under the Spanish constitution, including the right to raise its own taxes.


"So if ETA did carry out yesterday's attacks, it must have been partly out of desperation. In the face of Basque indifference and the government's admirable firmness, its struggle is going nowhere. Young Basque militants may have concluded that the only way to make progress is to follow al-Qaeda's example and resort to megaterrorism, killing people in large numbers in the very heart of the country. If so, they will not succeed.... The rest of us may not truly comprehend it yet, but this truly is a war, and none of us is safe until it is won. Under Mr. Aznar, Spain has had the sense to realize that the only way to stop terror is to confront it head on."


"The Medium Of terror"


Editorialist Mario Roy commented in the centrist La Presse (312):  "The series of ten simultaneous attacks which bloodied three train stations in Madrid mark a terrifying escalation of terror, regardless of who the authors were.… The medium is more than ever the message…. The authors of the 9-11 massacre did not have any attainable objectives. The kind souls who keep on looking for the 'root causes' of the event are wandering aimlessly in an endless desert. In Iraq, ten days ago, the attacks against the Shiites that killed more than 180 people in Baghdad and Kerbala had no other purpose than to perpetuate chaos. Just like all the other operations of the Iraqi 'resistance' that target mainly local police, [the attacks are perpetrated against] the hope of reestablishing some form of order.  Even in Madrid, if the ETA were the sole perpetrators of yesterday's attacks, they could not bring about any political consequence but the hardening of the central state's attitude. Even if they were conducted by the ETA, the attacks have nothing to do with the fate of the Basque people, just like Usama bin Laden could not care less about the fate of his co-believers (as we have seen a thousand times, Muslim extremists kill mainly other Muslims). The attacks have everything to do with a globalized ideology, a sort of multinational of terror, which practices terror for the sake of terror."


ARGENTINA:  "Barbaric Acts Repudiated, Victims Mourned"


An editorial in leading Clarin held (3/12):   "Once again terrorism has launched a ferocious attack... Beyond the identification of the author of the attack, we should bear in mind that it took place in a delicate international framework, and adds a new bloody event that demonstrates the still important terrorist ability to act. This redoubles the challenges of nations and the community of nations to rationally and legally fight the diffuse threat of terrorism....   Building adequate security conditions in prevention of terrorist attacks without affecting personal rights and democratic principles is a must for the current world."


"Why ETA? Why Al-Qaeda?"


Marcelo Falak, columnist of business-financial Ambito Financiero commented (3/12):  "Yesterday early in the morning, markets registered strong losses due to fears that Al Qaeda had finally launched its attack on Europe to punish George W. Bush's allies in the occupation of Iraq. But the Aznar administration did not doubt and...blamed ETA for the Madrid killing....   Beyond the unanimity of the Spanish government, the opposition and the media in blaming ETA, the world doubted. From the political point of view, the group did not seem to have chosen a good timing. The criminal assault would undoubtedly increase repression on the remains of the ETA structure, and from the election viewpoint, it could strongly favor the PP....  Beyond the controversy over the author of the attack, yesterday's was obviously a Bin Laden-styled attack. The coordination of an attack...against four commuter trans and three different railway stations seems unlikely for a withdrawing group like ETA. Also, the day of the calendar -11- and the fact that the attack was made against means of transport reminded the September 11 attacks... If, finally, it is found out that the Islamic terrorism attacked Spain, the PP could receive a very tough blow even on Sunday -- if the people has enough time to react - due to its pro-US foreign policy and to its hurry in blaming Basque terrorism."


"Shocked, Bush Reiterated His Support For Aznar"


Francisco Seminario, international columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion, stated (3/12): "The worst criminal assault in the history of Spain...immediately reminded the U.S. of the dramatic September 11 attacks, and it made President George W. Bush express his condolences to the Spanish people and the victims' relatives.... The first journalistic reflection in all cases was the evocation of Al Qaeda's constant threat....  But the official argument was differently oriented....   Both Bush and Powell...were quick to blame ETA.   However, U.S. analysts doubted it in the broader framework of the war in Iraq and the global fight on terrorism. Those analysts... reminded that Spain offered an undivided support to the USG in the invasion of Iraq...and it even sent some 1,300 troops to cooperate in the post-war scenario."


BRAZIL:  "A Terrible Attack Against The Spanish People"


Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized (3/12): "The cowardly terrorist attacks in Madrid will not have more political effects in the short term than to spread fear, hatred and pain among the Spanish people.... In the medium term, the reaction of the Spanish government, which has attributed the crimes to ETA, will be one of more repression and perhaps less aversion to demands for autonomy on the part of the nation's provinces.... According to some European analysts, indiscriminate killing is one of Al Qaeda's trademarks.... The prospect that bin Laden is resuming mass terrorist attacks in a new part of the world, is sufficiently frightening to turn initial suspicions toward ETA. But there is no doubt that Aznar's Spain is a possible victim of Islamic terrorism. The immediate, enthusiastic support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Aznar's unconditional alignment with the Bush administration and the sending of troops to Iraq would be reasons sufficient to bring terrorists into Spain."


"Terror, Trains And Brutality"


University Professor Denis Lerrer Rosenfeld commented in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (3/12): "It is not a coincidence that trains and stations were chosen for the attacks. Trains also crossed Germany during WWII to bring Jews to extermination camps. Trains also crossed the Russian steppes while taking those who opposed the communist regime to their final destination.  And now trains appear again as symbols of terrorist violence.... The meticulous planning of the attacks in Madrid shows the operation of a malign will inclined exclusively to evil....  Although determining who is responsible for the attacks is important, from the law enforcement, judicial and military point of view, [the key issue here is] a totalitarian type of plan based in contempt for rationality. This being the case, the Spanish government must not flinch in the fight against such an evil act, because if it does so it will paradoxically help terrorism to spread. Those who bow before fear end by increasing it. Terror has no place in politics or at the negotiating table.... Individuals or groups who negotiate recognize themselves as rational beings who share certain values and principles.... If the condemnation of these acts is not unconditional, a dangerous path will be opened up, along which humankind's values may be irremediably lost. This isthe bottomless pit sought by terrorism."   


"Echoes Of 9/11"


An editorial in center-right O Globo asserted (3/12):  "For all its magnitude and devastating power, a terrorist act like the one yesterday in Madrid cannot be assimilated at once, nor clarified in a day.... Having occurred in Spain on the eve of elections, the bombings carry the fingerprint of Basque separatists.  But for the ferocity and symmetryof the date (March 11 carries echoes of that fateful September 11) they remind us of the methods of Osama bin Laden's terrorist group....  At any rate, it's clear ETA has lost its bond with history as a separatist movement, and that support for it among Spaniards has never been so low. Reacting to previous attacks, the Spanish people have demonstrated a massive repudiation of terrorism as a political weapon....  If in fact it was an al-Qaeda act, let the Madrid massacre help the international community unite even more, collectively and on a global scale,  in the fight against the inhumamity and contempt for life of these terrorist movements."


"The Bells Toll"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil reflected (3/12): "There are no winners in this tragedy, whatever may be the intention of those responsible for this crime.  If the separatist group ETA perpetrated the attack, this was the greatest disservice that could have been practiced against the Basque cause.  There is no human understanding for such insane terrorist act....  But if it was in deed - as presumed - another of Al Qaeda's feat, it will rekindle in the entire West the rejection, the emotion and the hatred against Bin Laden's terrorists....The re-democratized Spain is one of the most consecrated examples of a country emerging as world power under the light of civil liberties and of an extremely dynamic capitalism....  Ernest Hemingway gave the title, 'For Whom the Bells Toll,' to his novel portraying the passion and heroism of the Spanish civil war, in which he quotes an English poet and preacher, John Donne:  'If a piece of Europe is dragged into the ocean, a part of mankind is also dragged along. So don't ask for whom the bells toll.  They toll for thee.'  In yesterday's attack Spain's suffering is the suffering of each of us."


BOLIVIA: "Terrorism Without Limits"


Left-leaning La Prensa editorialized (3/12):  ”The attitude of the terrorist groups who are behind this action as well as the September 11 attacks, is insane, but, at the same time it is a wake-up call to the world leaders.  It will not be possible to make the planet a place of peaceful living together, while the current levels of poverty, exclusion and intolerance remain, as well as the irrational exploitation of natural resources and the increasingly big imbalance in the distribution of wealth....  That is to say, it is necessary to understand that terrorism cannot be eradicated only through the legitimate use of repression, but that it requires also the construction of a social, economic, cultural and political system that is fairer, more tolerant and participatory."


 "Repudiation Of The Criminal Attack In Spain"


Conservative El Diario asserted (3/12):  "The repudiation that this collective genocide has caused is heard throughout all the boundaries of the Earth, in the midst of the indignation that a crime of this kind generates, a crime that must be punished in ways that set a firm example....  At this time, we can only express our solidarity with the Mother Nation, joining in the pain that covers thousands of families who have personally felt how man has become the worst enemy of man and nature.”


CHILE: "Terrorist Attack In Madrid"


An editorial in leading-circulation, independent La Tercera asserted (3/12):  "Whether it was ETA or an Islamic fundamentalist group’s (responsibility), the goal scare citizens and by that means to make authorities draw back in the face of terrorism."


"We Are All Spaniards"


Peruvian writer Alvaro Vargas Llosa's opinion column in La Tercera remarked (3/12): "Should those responsible be Islamic groups, we are facing one of the most spectacular successes by organizations that have declared war on Western democracies."


"Terrorist Attack in Madrid"


Conservative afternoon La Segunda held (3/11):  "Basque extremism and Muslim fanaticism are just facets of the new terrorism...which is currently the greatest enemy of peace. Defeating it requires a commitment that goes beyond borders and political differences."


GUATEMALA:  "ETA’s Islam?"


Leading Prensa Libre weekly editorialist Rodrigo Castillo del Carmen commented (3/12):  Following the tragedy of M-11, the lives of Madrid’s people will not be the same because their beautiful city has turned into a war-zone of the insane terrorist war, a global evil in which there will be no winners.”


"The Example Of Spain"


The main editorial in influential El Periodico held (3/12):  “Every time Spaniards resist a terrorist attack… they take to the streets to express their censure.  They protest by the thousands, regardless of their political party or any ideological differences… Despite the proximity of their general elections, none of the candidates said anything to try to favor his interests…  The interests of their nation are more important than anything.”


URUGUAY: "At The Margin Of Humanity"


The lead editorial of right-leaning, business-oriented El Observador found (3/12):  “Yesterday’s victims have been converted into a tragic living reminder to all Spaniards that the only contract one can have with terrorist organizations is that of ending their capacity to kill. Not even the apparent intention to frighten the Spanish people and influence the upcoming elections or take revenge for Spanish intervention in Iraq even begins to justify the cruelty of indiscriminately killing and mutilating innocent civilians of all ages and conditions....  Whoever it is that is behind yesterday’s cruel attacks, they deserve nothing short of total punishment, without ceremony and without holding anything back.”


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South Asia
Western Hemisphere

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