It appears reasonably clear that al Qaeda was responsible for the train bombings in Madrid last week. Norway’s Defense Research Institute has noted documents found on an Arabic web site last year which suggest that al Qaeda’s intention was to try to influence Spain’s national elections:
The Norwegian newspaper VG quoted one document as stating: “We must exploit the approach of the Spanish elections in March. Spain will not be able to sustain more than two or three attacks before they pull out of Iraq.” This refers to Spain’s military participation in the US coalition.
The insitute’s Thomas Hegghammer told the paper he initially understood the document as referring to attacks on Spanish soldiers in Iraq, but in view of Thursday’s atrocity it must be seen in new light.
Until today, I would have assessed this as another example of the Islamofascists’ failure to understand Western cultures, and their consequent inability to predict the effects of their own actions. I never would have imagined that Spaniards would be such quislings as to knuckle under to terrorism and reward al Qaeda for its mass murder, especially after the huge anti-terror demonstrations on Friday.
But that appears to be exactly what has happened. News reports are conflicting; some exit polls show the Socialists winning, others show Aznar’s Popular Party suffering major losses, but clinging to a slight majority. Whatever the result turns out to be, it seems that al Qaeda’s goal of influencing the Spanish election in favor of the Socialist Party has been realized.
The election that al Qaeda really wants to influence, of course, is our election in November. Indeed, it is possible that the bombings in Spain may have been a dry run to see how Westerners would react to a major terrorist attack on the eve of an election. The only sensible conclusion that al Qaeda can have drawn from its Spanish experience is that it may well be able to deliver our election to John Kerry with a terrorist attack timed for the weekend before the election. I think it is safe to predict that the Islamofascists will make a major attempt at such an attack.
Is it possible that Americans would react as spinelessly as the Spaniards have apparently just done? At one time, I would have felt confident that the answer was No.