Aznar Speaks


Lame-duck Spanish PM gives his side of the story at The Wall Street Journal. Although he doesn't complain about the election result, Jose Maria Aznar chastises "opponents" for exploiting 3/11, and gives a thorough defense of the government's initial focus on ETA:

In the hours that followed the attacks, our investigation focused on one obvious suspect, the Basque terrorist group ETA. It was a reasonable inference to make, and those who say otherwise are being either naive or dishonest. History has left us with clear evidence of ETA's sinister habit of killing during election campaigns. The terrorists always attempt to soak our democracy in blood on the days when we Spaniards go to the polls to reaffirm our liberties.

ETA has committed more than 800 murders, among other crimes, over three decades, and has sought always to weaken and divide our democracy, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. A few days earlier, the group had tried to carry out an attack with 500 kilograms of explosives, one that failed only due to the intervention of the Guardia Civil, the national police. Those detained in this failed attack had a map that highlighted the zone of the Henares Pathway, through which run the trains that were targeted on March 11. And it was ETA that, on Christmas Eve, attempted another slaughter at Madrid's Chamartin station, also thwarted by our National Police. And to continue the ghoulish catalog, the same terrorist group brought two vans loaded with more than 1 1/2 tons of explosives to Madrid in December 1999. Once again, our security forces foiled what would have been mass murder.

My government was not alone in attributing the March 11 attacks to ETA. In the first few hours, the president of the Basque Autonomous Region, the secretary general of the Socialist Party, the general coordinator of the United Left and the secretary general of Catalonia's Esquerra Republicana, among others, did likewise.

The only person who, in fact, publicly denied ETA's responsibility on the morning of March 11 was the leader of Batasuna, an organization that our courts have declared illegal because of its ties to ETA. This organization is classified as a terrorist entity by both the United States and the European Union.

This is going to sound like a really nutty question, but what did happen to the Basque connection? Before they abandoned it, I kept hearing about a lot of real physical evidence tying ETA to the crime—the Christmas bust was said to have involved explosives from the same batch used on the trains (though it seems unlikely such a determination could have been made so quickly), there was supposed to be some human intelligence implicating ETA, and various other things. Against that you had a denial of responsibility and a marked departure from ETA tactics, which seem pretty flimsy compared with hard evidence. Since everybody now seems to agree it was Muslims, I'm not going to argue, but what happened to all that evidence supposedly tying ETA to the murders?