March 11, 2004

The Madrid Bombings

Some Spanish commentators believe that ETA has purposefully adopted al-Qaeda tactics to put Spaniards on notice that the organization is still very much alive.

Whether ETA is definitively responsible, as the Spanish government appears convinced, will be borne out in the coming days. What seems clear regardless, however, is that this gruesome attack will serve to reduce to near nil any sympathy that the Basque nationalist movement previously may have enjoyed among San Sebastian aficianados and the like.

ETA, by adopting such mega-terror tactics (if this attack was indeed orchestrated by them), has permanently stained the reputation of the Basque nationalist movement with this horrific terror attack today.

A final point. Such attacks reinforce the need to prosecute the war against al-Qaeda with steely resolve.

Why?

Because terror groups like ETA may increasingly feel compelled to 'keep up' with al-Qaeda and not be overshadowed by attacks like 9/11, Bali, and Istanbul.

Which is all the more reason why all efforts need to be made to diminish al-Qaeda's operational capacity so it can not continue to serve as a grotesque 'inspiration' for other terror groups going forward.

Put differently, al-Qaeda has defined terrorist deviancy up. One result is that we have today seen a non al-Qaeda affiliated terror organization likely launch the biggest terror attack in modern Spanish history.

Tell me again that there isn't a global war on terror underway?

UPDATE: Yes, of course, this may have been an al-Qaeda attack. I don't think that necessarily makes my analysis above moot--but it will surely signal that al-Qaeda can still mount operations outside the Islamic world and will dramatically change the reaction to the attacks both within Spain and across the globe.

I'm out of Internet range for a few days so look to other blogs, like Iberian Notes, for ongoing Madrid coverage.

Posted by Gregory at March 11, 2004 07:50 PM
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