The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings were a series of coordinated bomb attacks targeting commuter train system (Cercanías) servicing Madrid, Spain. The attacks occurred 3 days before Spain’s general elections – on March 11, 2004 which means they took place 911 days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York (provided you count the 9/11/2001 day as Day 0). The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings, which consisted of 10 explosions on 4 different trains, killed 191 and wounded more than 1,800 people.
2004 Madrid Train Bombings Timeline
The attackers placed 13 backpacks loaded with improvised explosive devices on 4 commuter trains travelling between the Alcalá de Henares and the Atocha stations in Madrid, Spain. The explosives were triggered by cell phones. Only 10 IEDs deploy successfully. The police then carried out controlled demolitions of the 2 remaining IEDs which were found unexploded on the trains. One of the unexploded bombs in a backpack was found later as it was taken by unaware workers to a luggage storage facility.
- 7:01 am – First train targeted by the attackers departs from the Alcalá de Henares station. Additional 3 target trains depart within minutes of each other
- 7:14 am – Last of the targeted trains loaded with morning rush commuters departs from the Alcalá de Henares station
- 7:37 am – First bomb explodes on a train number 21431 which was located at the Atocha Station at the time of explosion. Additional 2 bombs explode on the same train within 4 seconds of each other at 7:38 am
- 7:38 am – Two bombs located in two different carriages of a train number 21435 explode just as the train starts to depart the El Pozo del Tío Raimundo station
- 7:38 am – One bomb located on a train number 21713 explodes during passenger boarding at the Santa Eugenia Station
- 7:39 am – Four bombs located in four different carriages of the train number 17305 explode as it was approaching the Atocha station
The 2004 Madrid Bombing Victims
191 people died in the 2004 bombing that ripped through four Madrid commuter trains. People from 17 countries were among the victims:
- 142 Spanish
- 16 Romanians
- 6 Ecuadorian
- 4 Poles (Poles are everywhere)
- 4 Bulgarians
- 3 Peruvians
- 2 Dominicans
- 2 Colombians
- 2 Moroccans
- 2 Ukrainians
- 2 Hondurans
- 1 Senegalese
- 1 Cuban
- 1 Chilean
- 1 Brazilian
- 1 French
- 1 Filipino
This was the deadliest terrorist attack on Spanish soil, with second worst being a 1987 bombing at a Hipercor supermarket in Barcelona (carried out by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna aka ETA) where 21 people died and 40 were wounded. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.
The 2004 Madrid Bombings Suspects
The successful bombing in Madrid was followed by an unsuccessful attempt to bomb a high speed train (AVE) on April 2, 2004. Following the AVE incident, the Spanish investigators identified an apartment in Leganés, the southern suburb of Madrid and had the intelligence suggesting that both March 11 bombings in Madrid and a failed attempt to bomb the AVE train were coordinated from there.
The police raided the premises on April 3, 2004 while prime suspects, brothers Mohammed Oulad Akcha and Rachid Oulad Akcha, the leader of the militants Jamal Zougam, and other key figures of the operation including Serhane ben Abdelmaji Fakhet aka El Tunecino or The Tunisian, Jamal Ahmidan aka the Chinese, Allekema Lamari and Abdennabi Kounjaa were inside. Seeing that they are trapped with no way to escape, the militants committed suicide by detonating explosives they had on site. The blast also killed one of the raiding “Grupo Especial de Operaciones” (Spanish Special Police Force) officers and wounded 11 others. 5 to 8 suspects managed to get away.
With prime suspects dead, the police focused on identifying the people who provided the attackers with explosives and ended up arresting several Spanish miners who had blood on their hands even though they did not participate in the attacks themselves.
More than 70 people, predominately Moroccan, but also Algerian, Lebanese, and Spanish were arrested while the investigation was going on. 21 were then found guilty on a range of charges from forgery to murder. Two of the defendants were sentenced to more than 40,000 years in prison each, but because Spain doesn’t have capital punishment or life sentences, the maximum time they can spend in prison is 40 years.
The 2004 Madrid Bombings Responsibility
Having had long history of terrorist attacks against targets in Spain, the Basque militant group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, meaning Basque Fatherland and Liberty) was initially believed to have been responsible for the 2004 Madrid Bombings. However, the scale and execution of the attack did not fit ETA’s profile as didn’t the fact that they did not announce this type of attack beforehand, which is what they always used to do. ETA usually focuses on targeting judges, policemen, businessmen or politicians and does not normally engage in mass killings of civilians, especially not the working class people like the ones using trains to commute to work.
Since the attacks occurred exactly 2 and a half years (or 911 days) after the 9/11 attacks in the USA, many speculated that al-Qaida was responsible for the bombings. The Independent newspaper made a claim that those responsible for the 2004 Madrid Bombings were patronaged by the Morocco’s radical Islamist Combat Group (GICM) which gets its inspiration from al-Qaida.
According to the official ruling by Judge Juan del Olmo, the 2004 Madrid Bombing attacks were carried out by local Islamic extremists who were inspired through what they saw on the internet and not by any larger terrorist organization.
2004 Madrid Bombings Video
The video below (includes commentary in Spanish) contains CCTV footage of explosions and some aftermath chaos that ensued.
[KGVID width=”840″ height=”560″]http://www.bestgore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/2004-madrid-bombings-pictures-video.mp4[/KGVID]
2004 Madrid Bombings Photos
Gallery of photos of the 2004 Madrid Bombings is below. I’ve included all the good and related images in the gallery and believe this is the largest collection of the 2004 Madrid bombings pictures on the net: