Madrid 3/11 Train Bombing. What do we really know 28 months later?

Category: History of Spain

Madrid 3/11 train bombing was the worst terrorist act ever perpetrated on the people of Spain. Ten bombs exploded in 4 commuter trains packed with people on their way to school and work. In about 3 minutes, 192 people were killed and more than 1700 wounded. Twenty days after the bombings while attempting to arrest the prime suspects, the police raided a flat in a Madrid suburb where the suspects were gathered. Before they could be arrested, an explosion was set off killing the seven men and one police officer.

Within weeks, the Spanish authorities had a complete explanation for what had happened. They knew that the dead suspects were in fact responsible for the train bombings, and they also knew the reason for their actions. The Spanish public was told that the perpetrators belonged to an Islamic terrorist local cell with ties to AL-Qaeda. They had perpetrated the attack in retaliation for Spain’s involvement in the Iraq war and committed suicide in the Islamic terrorist fashion. This happened in 2004. At the time, the case seamed clear and solved. However in the past few weeks, new information has been trickling in through the media that not only makes the original account seem questionable but also suggests possible tampering of evidence.

The terrorists had placed 13 bombs in the trains hidden inside backpacks. Of the 13, ten bombs—allegedly detonated by cell phones– exploded. Two bombs were found by the police unexploded, and as a safety measure, the police set them off on the spot. A third unexploded bomb—bomb #13, as it is commonly known—was accidentally found inside a sports’ bag among victims’ belongings in a police station 20 hours after the train blasts. This sports’ bag with the bomb and other items inside had provided some of the main clues in the investigation.

An additional investigation was conducted by a Parliamentary Commission. After countless hours of hearing testimonies, the Commission ended its work in June of 2005. It concluded—as with the original account—that “all that there was to be known about the Madrid bombing was already known.” With the perpetrators dead and most of the case solved, there was no further need for investigation.” The country could now turn page to a new chapter in its history and move on.

All along, two Spanish reporters were also investigating for their respective publications. They published a series of reports the Black Holes of 3/11 in the daily newspaper El Mundo and The Enigmas of 3/11 in the online publication Libertad Digital. This last reporter currently maintains a 3/11 related blog that receives more than a million page views per month.

The court-led investigation has yielded no new evidence in the last 2 years. The judge leading the investigation agreed with what was determined shortly after the massacre and later corroborated by the Parliamentary Investigation Commission. On July 7th 2006, the judge’s investigation report concluded that the Islamic terrorists who committed suicide in the raided flat were in fact the perpetrators of the massacre. In addition, he has indicted 29 persons for crimes related to the bombings. Surprisingly, most of those indicted as well as the dead perpetrators are petty criminals, police informants, and persons who had been controlled by the police long before the bombings ever occurred.

Because of the unexplainable discrepancies between the reporters’ and the investigating authorities’ findings, an unprecedented private citizen initiative is taking place. Individuals from various professions and backgrounds are organizing themselves via Internet to find out the truth behind the 3/11 train blasts in Madrid. They are using the judge’s investigation file as their primary tool for finding the truth and they are scrutinizing every aspect of it. Their views and remarks are posted in a forum and together they are building a library of materials, videos, pictures, and documents to assist them in the endeavor. The call themselves Black Pawns.

Both the initial explanation of the massacre and the judge’s report are being questioned by the investigating reporters as well as the “Black Pawns.” Aspects of the judge’s report, the evidence, and the testimonies are not consistent, and they not only question their validity but also suspect possible tampering of evidence. The disagreements have revolved around many parts of the investigation, but in the last few weeks 3 main issues are being discussed: the bomb found of in the police station in a sports’ bag, the components of the explosives that caused the blast in the trains, and whether or not the “perpetrators” had really killed themselves.

In the Black Pawns own words:

“The bomb that did not explode was found almost 20 hours later in a police station, but several evidences lead to suspect that the bomb was never in the trains. A mobile phone found inside the fake bomb allegedly pointed the police inquiries toward the then-arrested suspects. We were told the bomb did not go off due to a mistake made by the terrorists, but evidences lead to suspect the device was deliberately designed so as not to explode and therefore constituting a forged incriminating evidence.”

Regarding the explosives that blasted the trains, they contend that the components do not match those of bomb #13. That bomb was the main clue in the entire case leading to arrests and indictments. According to the latest revelations, the bombs in the trains contained Methanamine, which is a compound found in some military type explosives, while the bomb found in the police station was Goma2 Eco, a type of dynamite that does not contain Methanamine. If what exploded in the trains is different from bomb #13, the entire investigation would be flawed and the supposed perpetrators did not commit the crime. A new investigation would be unavoidable. Unfortunately, the main source of information, the blasted trains, have already been scrapped and are nowhere to be found.

Regarding the Islamic terrorist who blew themselves up, the Spanish people were told “the terrorists provoked the explosion in an attempt to carry out a typical terrorist suicide and therefore another massacre. But, after killing 192 in the trains, they were kind enough to wait until all the neighbors left the building before blowing it up.” Strangely enough, even though a human body contains 5 liters of blood and there were seven bodies blown to pieces in the explosion, there was no blood found in the aftermath.
Today, more than 28 months after the massacre it appears questionable that Spanish public really knows what happened that terrible day. Some still question: Who caused that terror? What was the real reason for the massacre? What was the crime’s weapon or explosives? Why was March 11—three days before the nation’s general election—the date selected? The investigating judge closed the file with crutial facts and data missing. The government-appointed Attorney General is pressing for a quick trial, while the director of the leading investigating newspaper predicts that new and more shocking facts will soon be known. As the Black Pawns vow to continue in their search until all the truth about 3/11 is known, we shall remain expectant and wait for further development in this more than outrageous story.