Cablegate: Spain Terrorism Update: March 11 Terrorists Blow
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 001141
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN TERRORISM UPDATE: MARCH 11 TERRORISTS BLOW
THEMSELVES UP; ETA LEADERS CAPTURED
Sensitive But Unclassified. Please Protect Accordingly.
1. (SBU) Three weeks after the March 11 terror train bomb
attacks, terrorism and the police fight against it continue
to dominate the Spanish political and media landscape. In
recent days, the police scored two successes: tracking down
the suspected leaders of the March 11 attacks to a Madrid
suburb and, on the ETA front, working with French police to
capture three prominent ETA members and an ETA arsenal in
France. The dramatic shoot-out and the suicide of five
Islamist terrorists April 3 stunned Spain. End Summary.
Five Terrorists Kill Themselves After Shoot-out with Police
2. (SBU) Thanks to the tracing of cell phone information,
police tracked the presumed leaders of the terror cell
responsible for the March 11 terrorist train bombings to an
apartment complex in Leganes, a populous Madrid suburb, on
April 3. The terrorists opened fire as police approached.
After a two-hour standoff, the terrorists blew themselves up
as a SWAT team (known as GEO) began to move on the apartment.
The front wall of the apartment was blown out.
3. (SBU) The shoot out and the terrorists' decision to blow
themselves up, while chanting "God is Great," stunned Spain.
According to the police, five terrorists were killed,
although one of the bodies was so badly mutilated that it has
not yet been identified. Acting Interior Minister Angel
Acebes announced April 4 that Serhan ben Abdelmajid Fakhet
aka "the Tunisian," the presumed leader of the cell that
carried out the March 11 terrorist attacks, was among the
dead terrorists. On April 5, Acebes said that another of
the bodies was that of Jamal Ahmidan aka the "Chino" another
presumed cell leader. Judge Juan Del Olmo had put out an
international arrest warrant for them April 1. Another of
the dead terrorists, Abdennabi Kounjaa, aka Abdullah, had
been identified by witnesses as one of those who planted
bombs on the trains March 11. The Spanish police GEO team
leader was killed in the explosion and three other GEO
seriously wounded, although they are in stable condition.
GOMA 2 Explosives Same as Those Used March 11
4. (SBU) Acebes said that the explosives the terrorists used
April 3, GOMA 2, was the same as that employed in the March
11 train bombings and the same as the explosives that were
left on the tracks of the Madrid-Seville AVE train on April
2. The detonators police found in Leganes were also the
same as in the other cases. Police said that at least one
suicide belt was found on the site, along with at least 10 kg
of unexploded GOMA 2. In addition, machine guns found were
the same as those displayed in a video the terrorists made
claiming credit for the March 11 attacks.
Terrorist Message: Pull Troops Out of Iraq and Afghanistan
5. (SBU) The conservative ABC newspaper received a message
dated April 3 from a group calling itself the "Ansar al Qaeda
in Europe." The note, in Arabic, claimed credit for the
March 11 attacks and the April 2 AVE train bombing attempt
and pledged more terrorist attacks unless the GOS immediately
pulls all Spanish troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. If this
is not done, the group promised to turn Spain into a "hell"
and to have "blood flowing like rivers." The note
threatened: "we have the capacity to attack when and where we
want." Some media link the "Tunisian" and "Chino" (above)
to Ansar al Qaeda.
Success Against ETA
6. (SBU) Overshadowed by the confrontation with the March 11
terror cell members were important successes against ETA
April 2. French police, with the support of the Guardia
Civil, arrested two ETA leaders and another long-standing ETA
member. One of the arrested was Felix Ignacio Esparza, a
veteran of over 20 years with ETA, who is believed to have
been head of logistics. Police also arrested Felix Lopez de
la Calle aka Mobutu, a notorious veteran of 25 years with ETA
and a leader (perhaps the top leader) in ETA's military wing.
Police believe the arrest of veteran ETA members represents
another sign of ETA's weakness in the face of a police and
judicial offensive meant to destroy the organization's
operational effectiveness. The arrests also reflect the
depth of current Spanish-French cooperation in the fight
against ETA. The arrests led police to one of the largest
ETA arsenals uncovered in recent years. It contained
automatic weapons, explosives, grenades, detonators, and car
Three Letter Bombs
7. (SBU) In yet another terror incident, on April 1 Spanish
police deactivated three letter bombs. One was destined for
Channel 3 TV, another for the conservative newspaper La
Razon, and another for the radio network COPE, all located in
Madrid. The letters were detected by the postal service and
did not arrive at their destinations. Who sent them is
unknown, though media speculate that an unidentified
anarchist group may have been responsible.
8. (SBU) As the events above illustrate, Spaniards have had
little respite from terrorism since March 11. Police
successes against the March 11 terror cell and the ETA
members are impressive. However, the presence of Islamist
extremists in Madrid ready and willing to commit suicide and
determined to kill as many civilians as possible to advance
their goals has unsettled Spaniards, as did April 3 images
from Iraq of Spanish troops fighting off mobs of angry
Shiites in Najaf.