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3/18/04 - TERRORISM IN SPAIN - 2004-03-18

Terrorists target anybody who opposes their extremist views. They’ve targeted the U.S. and they’ve targeted U.S. allies, including Spain. More than two-hundred people were killed and fifteen-hundred wounded on March 11th in the worst terrorist attack in Spain’s history.

According to news reports, the terrorists may have links to al-Qaida. One of those arrested has been identified as Jamal Zougan, a Moroccan. Investigators say he may be linked to the May 2003 terrorist attack in Casablanca, Morocco, that killed more than forty people.

A few days after the Madrid bombings, Spanish voters turned out in large numbers to cast their ballots in a regularly scheduled election. In an upset, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, defeated the ruling Popular Party. Under the Popular Party, Spain has been a strong ally of the U.S. in the war on terrorism.

Adam Ereli, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman, says that the Spanish election “is a win for democracy and the Socialist Party”:

“Those who suggest that somehow it’s a victory for terrorism or al-Qaida, I think should look at the pictures and footage of the demonstrations in Madrid and throughout Spain the day after the bombing, and look at the millions of raised fists and clasped hands among Spanish citizens in solidarity with each other and in solidarity with the fight against terror. There can be no more eloquent expression of a rejection of everything that those savages stand for than that peaceful and emotional expression of strength and conviction and courage that the Spanish people showed."

Mr. Zapatero says that his number-one priority as Spain’s new prime minister will be to continue the fight against terrorism. What the world has learned after the September 11th, 2001, attack on the U.S., says State Department deputy spokesman Ereli, is that all countries are potential victims of terrorism and must commit themselves “to work together to prevent these murderous people from practicing their blood sport.”