Friday, March 12, 2004

Islamist Link Gaining Ground

Today also at Berria English:

Hypothesis of Islamist attack gaining ground with al-Qaeda claim

After saying at midday there was “no doubt” it had been ETA, by the evening Acebes admitted that “all theories” remained open

Imanol Murua Uria – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
There was one version until one o’clock: it had been ETA. There were two contradictory versions from early in the afternoon onwards: Arnaldo Otegi [ Batasuna member] said it was not ETA, and Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes, on the other hand, said that was no doubt whatsoever that ETA had been responsible. And from 20.15 onwards one of the versions began to carry weight, because Acebes had begun to back down.

In his last appearance of the day the Interior Minister admitted that all the hypotheses remained open, yet went on to say that ETA was “the main focus of investigation”; but when he pointed out that a tape with verses from the Koran had been discovered along with seven detonators in a van allegedly used in the attack, he began to admit that an Islamist organisation could have been responsible.

It was after nine o’clock when a statement claiming responsibility signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades of al-Qaeda reached the London-based daily al-Quds that credibility began to be attributed to the theory of an Islamist attack.

Furthermore, Abdel Bari Atwan, the al-Quds editor, pointed out that the claim looked genuine, because it resembled other claims that had been received in the past. Spanish Government sources indicated that they had news of the claim and that they were examining it carefully.

Nevertheless, from early in the morning the main political leaders of Spain and the Basque Country considered that ETA had clearly been behind the attacks.

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