ETA or Al Quaeda?

Just heard on the news this morning that it is 911 days since 9/11 - would that point more towards AQ?

I’m not addressing you, spanna; you have a right to be curious. That said, I find such numerological games to be tedious, silly, and a complete waste of time and effort, even if someone DIDN’T miscount the number of days between yesterday and 9/11. If I were a member of AQ, I wouldn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to such things; there are so many more symbolic things to pay attention to. Hell, even the 911 (phone #) connection with the date of 9/11 stretched my credulity.

In other words, even if true, I don’t think it means one goddamn thing, except in the minds of those who really stretch the truth in order to find the tiniest bit of pattern in everything.

template1=# SELECT date ‘2004-04-11’ - ‘2001-09-11’;


(1 row)

So, it has been MORE then 911 days already (if Postgresql is not lying to me ;-)).

As far as I can determine the evidence in favour of it being ETA is as follows:

[li]Typical type of bombs used (dynamite)[/li][li]Typical manner of obtaining vehicles (stealing rather than renting vans)[/li][li]Typical manner of leaving bombs (rucksacks)[/li][li]Typical timing (just before elections)[/li][li]Additionally, it is known from recent arrests that ETA were planning a large attack on Madrid[/li][/ul]

And the evidence against:

[li]No warning[/li][li]Scale of attack[/li][li]Intention of killing as many civilians as possible[/li][li]Batasuna denial[/li][li]Al Qaeda claim (unverified)[/li][li]Timing (exactly 2.5 years after 9/11)[/li][/ul]

Note that I didn’t include the lack of an ETA claim in the last group because they have not always claimed their attacks straightaway.

On balance I think it tips towards AQ, and personally I just don’t think ETA are homicidal enough for this, but I still think there has to be some question.

I vote for Al Qaeda, mainly for the scope, timing, and cowardice of the attack. I get a little weary of hearing how “sophisiticated” these people are, really in the 21st century just how technically difficult is it to have a series of bombs go off at a designated time? Same thing with the 9/11 attacks, any idiot with an internet connection could easily find four cross-country flights that would be in the air at the same time, just how hard was that?

Is Bali part of the “Islamic World”? THAT was certainly a significant attack.

But yeah, I think accessibility had a lot to do with it. The US and UK are on their guard. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen in those two countries, just that it’s probably more difficult there than a lot of other places right at the moment. I have no doubt that if AQ thought they could pull off a big attack in the US or UK today they’d have a go at it, but for whatever reason they haven’t.

Yesterday morning, I turned on the news for the weather and stuff and saw what had happened in Madrid. Then I got on a crowded commuter train to get to work. You bet I was thinking about it off and on all day.

Backpack bombs? Oh great. Seems at least half the daily commuters on my train carry a backpack. Why? They’re so convenient for carrying stuff. So on a practical level, what’s the societal response? Metal detectors and shoe searches before boarding commuter trains every morning and night? Ban backpacks (which would just be replaced by bags of some sort, unless you banned those as well) Or business as usual and just hope you won’t be on the wrong train at the wrong time?

And, oh yes, I think AQ would hold the activities of Spain from a couple hundred years ago against them - I mean, they’re holding the Crusades against the US and the US didn’t even exist back then. If you aren’t with AQ you’re against AQ is how I suspect they tend to view the world.

There are four possibilities here:

  1. ETA - but it’s not their MO, and it seems they would lose more by this scale of attack than they would gain.

  2. AQ - definitely some signs here, such as multiple coordinated attacks and complete silence when it comes to claiming responsibility.

  3. ETA splinter + AQ (or their influence) - could be, could be.

  4. Someone besides ETA or AQ, but perhaps borrowing from one or both - could be, could be

Right now, the evidence seems to tilt toward choice #2 for me, but a lot of investigative work needs to be done first. And the results of such investigations may not be released to the general public for some time.

It might be: I just did this in Excel and it gives me 912

This is compelling, as I guess we already have decided that Al Qaeda is composed of the finest thinkers on the planet. Just look at how smart they were in getting the Taliban recognized as the eternal rulers of Afghanistan! Why, it’s probably just a political ploy that they haven’t released the proof of Goldbach’s conjecture.

From experience, basicly the latter (keep going and hope it doesn’t happen to you) :frowning:

  1. AQ + inside help - maybe from some ETA splinter. This is not exactly the same as option 3 - not a local initiative, but rather an AQ initiative, backed by some local help. IIRC, something like this happened in Turkey, as well.

I deem this the likeliest of the options, explaining the AQ M.O. (overall strategy) with ETA-like tactics.

My heart and thoughts are with the victims, the wounded, their friends and families, and all of the Spanish nation


From CNN, they mention an ETA-linked bomb attack in a supermarket that killed 21 people (1987). That sounds pretty non-targeted and focused on just killing a lot of civilians to me. I’m not sure how relevant that is to now (or how good the ETA link was), but if it is true, then they could be capable of virtually anything, no? Perhaps they have been tamer recently, but what if the group’s leadership has recently changed? Or maybe they decided that a massive attack would serve their goals at this particular moment (to drive the elections in a certain direction, perhaps?).

Pure speculation, and I think I’m leaning more towards Al-Qaida, but stranger things have happened…

The people of Saudi Arabia and Turkey weren’t big fans of the Iraq war either. Al Qaeda obviously doesn’t care, and they’re trying to send a message to the governments as well.

Sophisticated or not, Al Qaeda seems to go for coordinated attacks. Multiple attacks in different locations, or an initial attack followed by a second one as help is arriving, that kind of thing. Also, haven’t we been hearing in this country for some time that Al Qaeda wants to carry out attacks on soft targets like trains?

The third possibility, already brought up by someone here, is that Al Qaeda’s style and tactics are rubbing off on other groups. They could be connected very loosely, or just be imitating them.

Surely a good strategy to divert attention from however is truly responsible (assuming it isn’t AQ) would be to leave various Arabic paraphernalia around to be discovered. Whilst I strongly condem, as I am sure we all do, what happened in Spain, I believe that there is the possibility that ETA carried it out and left the ‘AQ Evidence’ to divert attention from them.


The possibility that the Spanish people may consider the twin efforts of AQ and ETA to terrorise the Spanish public too much to bear and perhaps grant the ETA some more leeway in their cause to leave them free to concentrate on the perceived AQ threat.

I realise this is hardly cast-iron logic but who is to say the logic behind acts like this is pure?

Std Disclaimer:

Just an idea - please feel free to rip it to shreds. I’m no expert in the field of terrorist politics and I realise there are much better informed people here than I so I would be interested to hear why this couldn’t be a possibility. Just be gentle with me …

The terrorists forgot that 2004 was a leap year? :wink:

And that will be their downfall!!

I am personally on the fence here:

Spanish Athorities are dismissing AQ. They have their reasons of course. It would be VERY beneficial politically to pin the blame on ETA. If they could sucessfully do it then it would be essentially discredited and would be considered the death of that. ETA has maintained whatever sense of respect that it has by not doing things to drastic. But I have heard on CNN that ETA had been caught planning something big recently and involving trains as well. That’s the only reason why I would lean towards ETA.

The AQ arguments have been made before, and still hold true.

Apparently it matters to the result of the election who it was. If it was ETA then the Spanish govmt has big problems. If it is AQ then it can be put down to international events. For this reason i would ignore the discovery of the Islamic suspicious cassette, the letter etc and wait untill after the election when there is less benefit to NOT knowing. As much as various organisinations and govmnts would love it to be AQ, i a putting my money on ETA or a branch of ETA.
As for Minty’s " I’d bet on al Qaeda, whose fascination with multiple, coordinated attacks sets it apart from pretty much every other terrorist organization in the world. ", go and lookup IRA bombing campains.

If ETA are “not homicidal enough” for this and no other groups go for this “soft target”, multiple strike method, then surley we should be having a targeted war on AQ not a general ( and some may say un-winnable ) war on generic terrorism.


Well, they always claimed that this was a “mistake” - the bomb went off early, or something. And a warning was phoned in in that case.

Absolutely. It’s another “crusade”, and it must be reversed.

sinical brit - based on my experience of the Spanish mindset I would argue the opposite. An attack by AQ will mobilise public opinion against the PP for having supported the war and by doing so making Spain a target. An attack by ETA unites the people - including many Basques - against what they see as a common enemy.

I’m still split between AQ or a splinter ETA group. More AQ though.

 As for why Spain and not England. Blair is in so much trouble with the Iraq War that bombing the UK would only help his position. Isolating the US even more by having Blair crash and burn I feel is good for AQ. 

 Whilst Spanish voters are more prone to giving Aznar the finger for his silly involvement with Bush after the explosions. More spaniards were against the war than britons.

   We can't forget that Spain was probably an easier target than the UK... also the muslim community in Spain is smaller. The UK muslim population would certainly turn against AQ if there were attacks there.

  If it was ETA it was a splinter group for sure... too violent for sure. It reeks of AQ with their multiple bomb style but not as dramatic target wise. We might be seeing a nasty ETA splinter group.