THE March 11 perpetrators were not working autonomously, a terrorism expert says:
The 2004 Madrid bombings, Europe's deadliest Islamist militant attack, probably were instigated by al Qaeda and were not the work of autonomous cells, a top terrorism expert says.
New information ties Osama bin Laden's group closer than ever to the attack, Fernando Reinares, Spain's leading expert on militant Islamist violence, said in an article for the online edition of U.S. magazine The National Interest.
On March 11, 2004 10 bombs hidden in sports bags exploded on four packed commuter trains at the height of the morning rush hour in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding 1,700.
"The bombings ... are often held up as an archetype of an autonomous local cell at work, and its perpetrators depicted as the epitome of self-recruited, leaderless jihadists. These assumptions are mistaken," Reinares wrote.
"New information connects some of the most relevant members of the Madrid bombings with al Qaeda's senior leadership. Al-Qaeda is alive and well and impacting the safety of the West."