News / Europe

Spain Beefs Up Security, Remembers Victims of al-Qaida Bombings

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero attends a meeting to discuss security issues after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, at Moncloa palace in Madrid, May 3, 2011
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero attends a meeting to discuss security issues after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, at Moncloa palace in Madrid, May 3, 2011
Lauren Frayer

In 2004, Spain suffered Europe's worst act of Islamic terrorism when bombs blamed on al-Qaida killed 191 people at a Madrid train station.

In the wake of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's death, Spain is reinforcing security and remembering its dead.

Terror in Madrid, March 11, 2004


After Sept. 11, 2001, the single most deadly al-Qaida-linked attack on the West happened at Madrid's Atocha train station. On March 11, 2004, 191 people died and more than 1,800 were wounded by bombs planted on four commuter trains.

Jesus and Gloria Seron lost a close relative, 37-year-old Federico Sierra Seron. A military officer, he was survived by his wife and three-year-old son.

Jesus Seron says considering what their family has been through, bin Laden's death is the best possible outcome.

But his wife says she's not so sure.

Gloria Seron says bin Laden's death represents neither a success, nor a failure. She says she appreciates that the al-Qaida leader is gone, but shrugs her shoulders when asked if Spain -- and the world -- are safer without him. She quotes an old proverb, saying "he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."

The 2004 Atocha bombings -- which struck three days before Spain's general election that year -- had a profound affect on Spanish politics. At first, the center-right government blamed the Basque separatist group ETA for the attacks, and is thought to have lost the election because of that mistake. Investigators quickly revealed that Islamic militants inspired by al-Qaida had planted the bombs, in part because of Spain's participation in the Iraq war. Less than two months later, Spain's new Socialist government withdrew troops from Iraq.

More than two dozen suspects of Moroccan, Algerian and Syrian descent were charged in the Atocha bombings. Two are currently serving life sentences.

Future threats

In life, bin Laden inspired terrorists like those who killed 191 people here in Madrid. But Gloria Seron said she fears that in death, bin Laden could still do the same.

Seron says she's worried bin Laden could become a hero for other militants, and that his death could prompt more violence, by people trying to defend his name.

Spain's interior minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcahba, echoed Gloria's feelings at a news conference in Madrid. He said he's relieved bin Laden is dead, but that it's not time for Spain to lower its guard.

Rubalcaba says without a doubt, bin Laden's death is a blow to al-Qaida. But he says we can't rule out reprisal attacks. And he notes that Spain is well within striking distance of al-Qaida's North African branch, which is being investigated in a recent bombing at a tourist cafe in Morocco.

Spain is currently on terror alert level two, on a four-point scale. Rubalcaba said government ministers are meeting Tuesday to discuss new security measures, but that the terror alert level won't be raised. He wouldn't comment on security specifics.

Security barriers erected in 2004 remain outside Madrid's Atocha train station. On hearing news of bin Laden's death, Gloria and Jesus Seron passed through those barriers and stopped to gaze at a memorial built near the site where their relative and 190 others were killed.

Gloria Seron says nothing can bring her loved one back. She says the only thing that remains is to prevent such attacks from ever happening again.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More