Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the Madrid terrorism attack
Spain´s government warned that the country is still a terror target, a decade after the Madrid train attack that killed 191 people.
It was 10 years ago that Al-Qaeda style terrorists blew up four commuter trains in Madrid in what is still seen as Spain´s worst terror attack and Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Islamist extremists are still a threat.
The minister told Onda Cero radio that intelligence on Al-Qaeda members and affiliates had revealed that reference has frequently been made to “Al Andalus”, or Spain.
“Clearly Spain forms part of the strategic objectives of global jihad. We are not the only ones but we are in their sights obviously,” Fernandez Diaz said.
The minister said the Spanish counter-terrorist service’s alert level is at its second-highest category, signifying “a likely risk of attack”. This level has not changed in recent years and is identical to that of most countries in the region.
Diaz said that since the March 11, 2004 attack, 472 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested.
Following the 2004 attack Spanish courts sentenced 18 people for the shrapnel-filled bomb attack that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 on four commuter trains heading for Atocha station, Madrid.
Basque separatist group ETA was the prime suspect but Diaz says the facts and the judicial process had since shown that ETA was not involved.
The seven main suspects committed suicide on April 3 2004 by blowing themselves up in an apartment near Madrid, killing a policeman in the blast.
Aside from the intelligence service, Diaz said that some 1,800 Spanish police and counter-terrorist security forces were devoted to confronting the threat.
Fernandez Diaz presided over a ceremony in Madrid last week to present civilian awards to 365 of those affected by the attacks.
A study by Spanish research facility Royal Elcano Institute said 84 Islamists, all young men, were convicted for attack plots in Spain between 1996 and 2012, or died in relation to such attacks. Most of these Islamists were first-generation immigrants from Algeria, Morocco or Pakistan.
Experts say that a growing threat now comes from lone extremists. These individuals are radicalised on the fringes of the Islamic world, usually not in mosques but rather online or in small places of worship and private homes.