...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, March 11, 2004
      ( 3:12 PM )
Tragedy in Spain

Once again, a nation of the world suffers terrible tragedy and responds with humanity towards its citizens. After the terrible bomb blasts today that have killed close to 200 people, and injured thousands, the government of Spain has declared 3 days' mourning and the political campaigns leading up to Sunday's election have all called a halt to campaigning. I wrote only days ago about Iraq's response to its terrible tragedy last week with a three-day shutdown for mourning. I'm reminded again, that in the worst terrorist attack ever, on September 11, 2001, when thousands of citizens were murdered and thousands more injured and maimed, President Bush told us to act like nothing had happened and go shopping. It still steams me.

Anyway, today's bombings in Spain are still being investigated. But of course the first words out of the politicians' mouths were that the bombings had been caused by ETA. When I first heard the story this morning, my first thought was that it doesn't sound at all like an ETA operation. It still may be too premature to say what happened, but this is an attack like nothing ETA has ever done before. ETA, the armed resistance for the Basque Country, has carried out many attacks on Spanish leaders and police, often killing civilians as well. But three days ahead of an election where a new, bold step forward might be taken for the Basque region of Spain, targetting and killing hundreds of civilians? It doesn't sound like ETA.

I don't speak with a whole lot of authority on ETA, but during my years of work in the north of Ireland, I certainly met more than a few Basque Separatists (not necessarily the militant kind). The ETA has historically operated in a similar fashion to the Provisional IRA (the IRA most people think of). A contrast in operations became clear in Ireland when in 1998, after the IRA had called a ceasefire to honor the new political agreements in Ireland, an IRA breakaway group bombed the city centre of Omagh, killing tons of civilians and without the usual warnings given. The provos never conducted operations like that. So either this very well-calculated multiple bombing in and around Madrid was carried off by a new, more militant wing of ETA, or ETA has gotten suddenly much more brutal and off-message, or .... it was Al Qaeda clones. A leader of ETA said early this morning he did not think it could be ETA. If you are at all interested in the ongoing conflict in Spain, I suggest you start with reading The Basque History of the World. I've not yet finished it, but it is an incredible read on the richness of the world's oldest and continuing civilized culture in Europe.

CNN and the BBC is reporting that new discoveries near the bombings and a claim in an Arab newspaper now put islamist terrorists on the list of possible suspects.

It's all just so devastating what humanity can do to itself.

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