Jos? Mar?a Aznar: Malicious People

On the eve of the Spanish election in 2004, a group of terrorists bombed several commuter trains in Madrid. Conservative prime minister Jos? Mar -- a Aznar, whose conservatives were narrowly leading in the polls, refused to acknowledge the possibility that the attacks were orchestrated by Al Qaeda for Spain's support of the war in Iraq.

Aznar personally telephoned El Pais and other Spanish news outlets, insisting that the Basque separatist group ETA was responsible for the carnage. Aznar's diplomats worked overtime to push a resolution through the United Nations Security Council blaming ETA. Aznar's interior minister, Angel Acebes, denounced speculation of al Qaeda involvement as "an attempt by malicious people to distort information."

As Washington Post writer Keith B. Richburg reported, however, Spanish intelligence suspected al Qaeda from the very beginning. Among the evidence ignored by Aznar? The operation's sophisticated co-ordination and planning, al Qaeda's own claims of responsibility, and the discovery of a van carrying detonators, cigarette butts, a woman's wig, a Placido Domingo cassette, and a tape containing verses from the Koran.

[The Socialists won the election.]

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