Saturday, March 13, 2004

Yet Another Reason to Doubt Al-Qaeda Involvement

One thing that has stuck out like a sore thumb for me in the ongoing investigation into the Madrid attacks is that the perpetrators all seemed to have taken care to ensure their own survival. That certainly isn't in keeping with Al-Qaeda's style, as it suggests a concern with living to enjoy the pleasures of this world that is entirely out of character for the average Islamic terrorist. If I remember my Islamic terrorist philosophy correctly, the key to attaining the rewards of "martyrdom" lies in dying while "fighting for the work of Allah" - as such, a committed Al-Qaeda operative would have no great desire to get off the train. What is more, the very act of getting on a train, leaving a backpack and then getting off again is likely to jeopardise a mission by raising suspicions, so it would also have made sense from a purely operational perspective for the perpetrators to sacrifice their lives.

I'm leaning increasingly towards the position that this act was carried out by Europeans. It may still be that Al-Qaeda had a hand in its planning, but the care taken to preserve the lives of the plotters argues very strongly against the notion that this was an entirely Arab-run affair.