Friday, March 19, 2004

Here's the latest from Spain. The five people, three Moroccans and two citizens of India, who were arrested on Saturday have been placed in preventive and "incomunicado" custody in Madrid by Judge Juan del Olmo of the Audiencia Nacional. Under Spanish law, they can now be held for two years without an indictment, which can be extended to two more years. Spain doesn't need a Guantanamo; they can lock these guys up for four years without even having to indict them, much less try them.

One of the guys Spain already has locked up is Abu Dahdah, nom de guerre of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas. Abu Dahdah admits his connections with Jamal Zougam, one of the three Moroccans arrested Saturday and the only one who seems to have been a major conspirator. The other two Moroccans are named Mohamed Chaoui and Mohamed Bakali. The Indians are Suresh Kumar and Vinay Kohly.

Five more arrests were made last night, four Moroccans in Madrid, at least one of whom is believed to be one of the actual bombers, and a Spaniard in Aviles, near Gijon. The Spaniard is suspected of stealing the dynamite used in the bombings. Another hypothesis is that the terrorists had established a front company in some legitimate business like quarrying, mining, or road construction and used it to buy the dynamite, which was made in Spain by the Rio Tinto factory. This would involve serious infrastructure and implies that this particular gang of terrorists, most of whom seem to be Moroccans, has international connections, most likely with Al Qaeda.

(Note on my being wrong; I've been getting some grief on the Comments section for being wrong about ETA authorship of these bombings. Hey, this is the third time I've admitted I was wrong, and you'll note I presented all the arguments against my own case. I was also wrong about the election; I thought the leftist parties wouldn't be nearly as successful in most of Spain as they would be here in Catalonia. Other things I was wrong about that I admitted at the time: I didn't think Kerry would ever win the Democratic nomination, I thought Howard Dean would do much better then they did, and I thought Edgar Davids was all washed up as a soccer player. I even let Murph go back through my archives and grade my predictions for the year 2003 just a couple of weeks ago. So don't lump me in with Beirut Bob Fisk as someone who won't admit he was wrong when he was.)

One argument I've been hearing often recently is that "we're not concentrating on the War on Terror, we're getting distracted in Iraq, and so Bush is to blame for the bombings in Madrid."

Where do we start? Let's see.

A) there's a major roundup of Al Qaeda and allies going on right now in Afghanistan and Pakistan

B) getting rid of Saddam Hussein was getting rid of a tyrant who had money and power and used it to support international terrorism among other horrible things

C) I'm sure the American, British, and Coalition military and security forces are capable of taking on both Al Qaeda and Saddam's dregs at the same time

D) the Iraqi conflict happening now is our guys and the 98% of Iraqis who want to be left alone, against "resistance freedom fighters" who are either Saddamite Baath Party loyalists or international terrorists--some allegedly Basque--lured to Iraq because that's where the action is. Well, the more of them we fight in Iraq, the fewer we'll have to fight in, oh, say, Madrid

E) there has been a continuous stream of Al Qaeda arrests; it's surprising there have been so few attentats outside Israel and Iraq. If the anti-terrorist struggle wasn't working, then there would have been a hell of a lot more attacks in America or London or Paris or Barcelona. Since 9-11, the only really big one in the West has been precisely this one in Madrid

F) if these guys are going to bomb you and kill your people if you don't do what they say, you have two choices, fight them to the death or surrender. There's no opting out. They'll just bomb you again and up their demands, if you meet those demands the first time. Adolf Hitler used this strategy: first I want the Rhineland, then I want Austria, then the Sudetenland, then the rest of Czechoslovakia, then Memel, everyone giving in every time...until Great Britain finally said enough when he got to Poland. Spain seemed to understand this strategy against ETA, but it's obvious most of the Spanish people don't get it regarding Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Al-Aqsa Brigade, and company. You can't say it's not your war because it is, and not recognizing this is, as Cecil Adams would say, craven puppyhood.

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