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The Madrid 3/11 Bombings and Spain’s Jihadist Networks

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The Madrid 3/11 Bombings, Jihadist Networks in Spain, and the Evolution of Terrorism in Western Europe

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The Madrid 3/11 Bombings, Jihadist Networks in Spain, and the Evolution of Terrorism in Western Europe

On the morning of March 11, 2004, Islamic militants detonated a series of explosives placed on four commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 individuals and injuring an additional 1,800. It was the worst terrorist attack in modern European history.


Ten years later, Professor Fernando Reinares, a senior analyst within Elcano Royal Institute, has now published a definitive account of the attacks, entitled,¡Matadlos! Quién Estuvo Detrás del 11-M y Por Qué Se Atentó en España (Kill Them! Who Was Behind 3/11 and Why Spain Was Targeted). Reinares provides evidence showing that the decision to attack Spain was made in December 2001 in Pakistan by Moroccan Amer Azizi – previously a charismatic member of Al Qaeda’s Spanish Abu Dahdah cell – and that the Madrid bombing network began its formation in March 2002, more than one year before the start of the Iraq war. Al Qaeda’s senior leadership then approved the 3/11 plan by mid-October 2003, Reinares reveals. Today Spain battles the challenge of jihadist radicalization and recruitment networks that are sending fighters to join the wars in Syria and elsewhere.

On July 15, the Intelligence Project at Brookings hosted Professor Reinares for a discussion on his book’s revelations, the empirical data on the evolution of jihadism in Spain and the future of terrorism in Western Europe. Brookings Senior Fellow and Intelligence Project Director Bruce Riedel provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.

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