The Madrid bombings were timed for just three days before the general election. The Aznar government fell into the trap and immediately blamed ETA, without any evidence or investigation. Already by Thursday night it was leaked that the Foreign Ministry had ordered Spanish ambassadors around the world to blame ETA. Then the global jihad started unleashing its second artillery barrage: al-Qaeda and/or affiliates started claiming authorship by e-mail and video, as clues were progressively "dropped" around - the van with the detonators and the Koran tape, the dynamite backpack linked to a cellular phone. For its part, ETA vehemently denied any involvement - twice. The ruling Popular Party may have seen it coming by Saturday, when a real "SMS revolution" - as the word in Barcelona's streets goes - launched a series of spontaneous political demonstrations against the government's "lies" and "manipulation".
Barcelona took to the streets in force on Saturday - again displaying countless badges and flags first used in February 2003, when the city was in the frontline of the demonstrations against the coming war on Iraq. Meanwhile, in the Basque country, solidarity with the victims in Madrid soon merged with deep anger. "To see the word 'Basque' assimilated to this barbaric act, this creates a shock beyond anyone's ideology. We defend our identity and our culture, but no one is ready to pay such a price," said Panpi Dirassar, a spokesman for Batasuna. The crowds in Bilbao were furious that "the Basques had become the new Jews of this century".
The Aznar strategy totally backfired. According to numerous polls, as many as 70 percent of Spaniards consider Aznar, Bush's and Tony Blair's "third man in the photo", an "arrogant and intolerant" character. During his second term (2000-04), he personalized authoritarian, centralized Castile almost to cartoonish proportions, fighting against Basque and Catalan nationalism (no wonder both regions voted massively against the PP).
Only one day before M-11, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had finished the simulation of an Islamist attack against a Dutch chemical plant, leaving 200 dead. But what really happened the day after was even more unprecedented: the global jihad directly influencing the outcome of a general election in a Western democracy.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.