Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

In case you're just waking up and reading blogs before reading the news. There has been a terrible terrorist incident in Spain.

News on

The last count I saw was over 170 192 people dead. Several commuter trains in the early morning to Madrid. Government says it was the ETA.

Victor has compiled a lot of information on the attack.


Terrible indeed. Lots of dead and injured people. The whole country is in shock.

I will soon be going to Spain for a month. I knew the ETA was a problem, and hope that there may be some resolution to this problem., Not for me, but for everyone in Spain.

My condolences.

The power of the blog: I hadn't heard about this until I read this post at 9AM Central time in the USA. Thanks--I'll check the news sites.

I am just reading about it now and my heart hurts ; it literally pains. I continue to wonder why I feel such immense reaction and emotion for people I've never met, places I've never visited, and things I've never known so deep. Maybe I'll never know, and that's how I know it's right.

BBC online is still working

Why is this an "incident" but 9/11 an "attack"? Did you consciously make a distinction between these two events? Just curious.

The country is definitely in shock.

Interesting observation Lars; I have a feeling it's the way people get 'spun' in events like this.

It's hard to strive for accuracy when you've seen the images and feel the horror, and no doubt we simply repeat what we hear.

I'm pretty sure they referred to it as an attack on the news here in Spain.

Good question Lars. No conscious reason I chose "incident" but I guess it's because I've been thinking more about the victims and less about the people who did the attack.

I share the pain mainly because the victims are common workers, commuters, children: the real "People". As an Italian from Bologna, I know how you can feel when these things happen; the main Bologna rail station was blown up on august 2nd, 1980, by neo-fascists (helped by the state secret service... Italy is a strange place), 76 victims. That same year a Bologna-Palermo airplane found itself in the middle of some strange NATO-Lybia wargame near Ustica island, 81 victims (and 15 years for a vague truth to be acknowledged, with the Italian Air Force generals lying under oath). And I could go on :/ But the bottom line is: this kind of violence is horrible, doesn't make any sense, mainly hurts people from the lower classes, and only justifies draconian actions by the government.

Joi and Mike, thanks. They are both horrible deeds, but I would probably use stronger language if something like that had happened where I live (Sweden). But Joi, your explanation reminds us there are two sides of the coin.

A quick Google on ETA found me a CNN article [1] from which this quote stood out:

Aznar vowed earlier on Monday to intensify the fight against ETA, which has killed nearly 800 people since 1968. "We will put a stop to terrorism," he said.

This was 1997.

[1] Millions march in Spain to honor slain politician

Lars, I´m agree with you. I live in Spain and I use stronger language for this... It has been a brutal attack, an awful massacre... not as terrible as 9/11 in New York, but yes in the whole history of Spain and terrorist group ETA.

Until today, the most bloodthirsty and cruel attack of ETA murders 21 persons in a shopping centre in 1987.

Before today, ETA has killed more than 800 people in 36 years, since 1968.

Today ETA has murdered 186 persons for now (more than 1000 injured persons)... in only 20 minutes.

This is the miserable legacy of 9/11.

For now... already 192 deaths and 1421 injured.

CNN: «Spanish Interior Ministry officials said Thursday they are investigating the new angle in the deadly series of Madrid blasts after the discovery of a van containing eight detonators and an Arabic tape with Koranic teachings».

There is also a list of spaniard blogs which talks about this tragedy in
Reuters: Purported Qaeda Letter Claims Spain Bombings-Paper

... and, it's the 11th.

We are all in shock

I am in utter horror and shock, and sadness all at once. Again this has happened and as I continue to say through my website and other writings, as long as we live in a world where children are born in a world and raised to hate what's different and not celebrate that and try to understand and respect the difference of opinion and faith and belief, these things will sadly continue to happen over and over again. Perhaps as human nature has already let me down in terms of choosing for violence over kindness because it's easier, I can't expect different. So, if I am labeled an alien for continuing to hope and pray for some love and peace in this world, I'll gladly retain the title as invader from another planet and keep fighting for celebration and harmony.

I live in Madrid. We are all shocked, still don't belive it's happened. So many regular people killed and injured, so many families destroyed.

Here's a link to a list of Spanish blogs commenting on the attack. It's in Spanish.

ETA? or maybe Al Qaeda? or maybe both? The answer in the next hours or days.

Hmm, it seems the Spanish Interior Minister was unnaturally quick to pin the blame on ETA, not long after these despicable attacks happened. I guess the Spanish government would be very annoyed if the population perceived a link between Aznar's pro-Bush stance on Iraq and the latest events...

Anyway, people living in Rome, London and Tokyo and commuting by public transport might want to shift their schedules a bit during the next few months, to avoid being in trains between 08:00 and 09:00 AM, and around 17:00 in the afternoon....

...or years...
We can only guess, but the reported facts (Batasuna saying they are not involved "but we know who did it", the detonators found on a van with arabic tapes, the newspaper message, even the date - 11) point towards al-Qaeda or one of their friends.

Our "frontpage today" application did the rounds just when news of the terrible blasts in Madrid came trickling in.

So in Germany or France you see the ticker news speaking of 15 to 30 people killed. The Spanish sites could not be reached at that time. Many of the UK and Northamerican sites did not carry the news yet (probably because we grabbed the screen shots a few minutes too early).

Direct link to El Pais animation:

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of this horrible attack.

I do not believe there are two sides to this coin. The people who did this (whoever they are) are not interested in dialogue, and have no regard for human life. They must be stopped.

Why must we "try to see their side"?

ETA's just phoned basque newspaper 'Gara' denying their involvement with the 3/11 terrorist attack in Madrid.

On the other hand, Spanish Security Minister, Acebes, confirmed that the Goverment's main suspect is ETA.

The "verdadera desgracia" is to sneak in a spam comment for a "ofertas de empleo" web site -- i.e. job offers / classifieds -- in such a thread.

Hopefully Joi will delete without delay the spam comment I'm referring to.

Thanks MW, missed that one!

Independientemente de que grupo sea responsable de las matanzas del 11-M. Del analisis de la situacion se desprenden conclusiones inquietantes:

-Nos han pillado en bragas.
-Han matado a 200 seres inocentes, podrian haber sido 1000 si hubiesen querido.
-Pueden volver a hacer algo similar o peor cuando les venga en gana
-La ferocidad y crueldad de nuestros enemigos no tiene limites ni fronteras

Una de las maximas prioridades europeas en los proximos meses deberia ser tratar de identificar nuestros puntos debiles y admitir que hemos cometido errores en materia de seguridad y de lucha antiterrorista. Simplemente, no hemos estado a la altura de las circunstancias. No hemos sabido apreciar las implicaciones del nuevo orden mundial emergente tras los atentados del 11 de Septiembre. Mientras en Europa ciertos individuos se preocupaban sobre la situacion de los
terroristas encarcelados en Guantanamo y supuestos recortes a las libertades personales, otros terroristas han planeado y ejecutado la matanza de Madrid.

Europa carece, a dia de hoy, de mecanismos de seguridad antiterrorista adecuados para prevenir
atentados y para perseguir, neutralizar y eliminar a los terroristas y a aquellos que les apoyan o protegen. Cuanto antes reconozcamos nuestros errores en materia de seguridad y de actitud, antes seremos capaces de vencer en la guerra global contra el terrorismo.

Europa debe de adoptar una actitud dinamica y decidida para neutralizar la amenaza terrorista. EEUU ha decidio adoptar esta linea de actuaccion. La guerra contra el terrorismo no deberia ser responsabilidad exclusiva de los EEUU. Las victimas del terrorismo son globales: Nueva York, Bali, Mombasa, Baghdad, Jerusalen, Moscu, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Estanbul, Madrid... Europa no encontrara en el mundo un mejor aliado que los EEUU. Juntos hemos destruidos a los dos grandes demonios del siglo 20, el nazismo y el comunismo. Juntos tambien podemos ganar la batalla contra uno de los demonios del nuevo milenio, el terrorismo.

La otra opcion seria adoptar una actitud pasiva-dialogante-pacifista a veces rayando el derrotismo, del estilo "contra el terrorismo no se puede hacer nada". La linea de actuacion que dicha corriente de pensamiento parecen sugerir es la de seguir como hasta ahora y culparnos a nosotros mismos por lo ocurrido, o mejor aun, culpar a EEUU por la existencia del terrorismo. Su estrategia para el futuro se resume a esperar que los terroristas entren en razon y asumir que aun en toda su crueldad, los terroristas nunca llegaran a utilizar un mecanismo atomico contra civiles. En la guerrra contra el fanatismo la serenidad, la pasividad, el pacifismo, el derrotismo y la actitud dialogante son recetas seguras para la victoria del terror.

El mejor homenaje que Europa puede hacer a las victimas de la matanza de Madrid es poner a disposicion de nuestras fuerzas de seguridad los instrumentos necesarios que les permitan atrapar a los responsables de las matanzas, aplicarles un castigo de proporciones equivalentes al crimen cometido y evitar que algo similar vuelva a suceder. Un bueno punto de comienzo seria la revision de la todavia no aprobada constitucion europea. Salir a la calle con las manos pintadas de blanco y en alto como diciendo "yo no he sido" no es la forma mas efectiva de luchar contra el terrrorismo ni creo que conforte mucho a las victimas de la barbarie.

Berlin, 13 de Marzo del 2004

Nos mereciamos un ataque así. lo siento por los muertos pero españa la ha cagado mucho entrando en una guerra il·legal. Y esto es el precio que pagamos por la culpa de Aznar.
Nosotros matamos mucha mas gente en Irak(por itereses, dinero...)
Siento decirlo pero este no sera el ultimo ataque en españa. Ahora ellos estan en guerra, la guerra de la venganza.


Nos mereciamos un ataque así. lo siento por los muertos pero españa la ha cagado mucho entrando en una guerra il·legal. Y esto es el precio que pagamos por la culpa de Aznar.
Nosotros matamos mucha mas gente en Irak(por itereses, dinero...)
Siento decirlo pero este no sera el ultimo ataque en españa. Ahora ellos estan en guerra, la guerra de la venganza.


Spanish Citizens.

You have now upped the ante in the war in terrorism, in favor of the terrorists. Just as the U.S. was not responsible for 9/11, the same can be said of the tragedy in Spain on 3/11, 911 days later. The only difference is, is that we did not blaim the European nations, or the Muslim nations, we blaimed individuals responsible and the countries that supported them through monies.

The terrorists have learned a very good lesson. They now know that people (countries) will tuck tails and run when threatened. I fear for the next country around the world to hold an election, I believe there is a danger of the same situation happening to those nations.

I must thank you for showing the clear lines between the U.S. and the European nations. I forgot what happened in WWII, now I remember.


Hmm, it seems the conservative damage control propaganda machine is working at full tilt in the US, the pundits on TV preaching the party line to people like Mary looking for simplistic answers and analyses.

The signs the Spaniards were carrying in the demonstrations after the bombings and before the election were clear: they accused the government of LYING.
The unnatural ETA spin the Spanish government put on the attack, just after they happened, really wiped out the remaining trust credit the government had with the Spanish people.
Let us also not forget that Aznar implicated Spain in a war in Iraq, preempting the UN's weapon investigations and debate, against the wishes of 90% of the population.

This terrorist attack was probably the catalyst that made the Spanish realize that supporting the incumbent Popular Party's economic policies, while attractive on the surface, also made them accomplices to an US-aligned adventurist foreign policy that they had clearly rejected.

Governments ignore the voice of the people at their peril, and I thank the Spaniards for showing us how democracy is supposed to work. Now is the time for Spain to focus more on its *own* national interests and security, working in partnership with its "old" Europe friends like France and Germany to address its *real* security threats.

As to what some foolish Americans might have been thinking about the effect of a conveniently-scheduled terrorist attack in Europe, this quote from a recent NY Times article is quite enlightening:

"[..] In fact, months ago a senior adviser to Mr. Bush predicted that should a terrorist attack occur in Europe, it would probably drive the Europeans closer to the United States and its approach to the campaign against terror, not away from it. [..]"

Faced with a disintegrating "coalition" of the willing, expect the US administration to start really considering that a UN-sanctioned framework, instead of unilateral actions, might be a better approach after all.

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