A Spanish court overturned the convictions of four people who had been found guilty in connection with the 2005 Madrid bombings. The court overturned a ruling from last year, which found three guilty of being members of an Islamist cell that carried out the attacks. All four of the men were among 21 people convicted in 2007, of being inspired by – but not directed by, Al Qaeda. Relatives of victims said they were baffled by the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the court cited that there was insufficient evidence in the cases of the four.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Spanish authorities had concrete evidence against the nine Pakistani nationals arrested for planning terrorist attacks in Spain and Europe. “The Spanish investigators have solid evidence against nine of the twelve Pakistanis arrested in Barcelona. The material used in the blast was recovered from them,” said Qureshi, in a meeting with the Senate. The twelve men were detained in mid-January of this year, and authorities believe they had been planning to carry out attacks similar to the Madrid bombings. Three suspects were released on account of no evidence against them, but nine remain in Spanish custody.
As the verdicts were delivered in the Madrid bombing trial, Spanish newspapers focus on the political capital that the government and opposition are believed to have made from the situation. Several newspapers highlight that the court ruled out any involvement by the ETA in the bombings. The Popular party, which was the rling party at the time, initially blamed the Basque separatist group for the attacks. At least one of the papers notes that the court avoided linking the Madrid bombings to the Iraq war, whereas the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party has maintained the belief that there was a connection.
As the verdicts were made in the Madrid bombings trial, the debate about how best to deter similar reoccurrences of terrorism. Citing the inevitability of continued immigration, children of immigrants, and religious conversion, challenging and innovative approaches seem to be the best deterrent. Normalizing Islam, legitimizing the religion, giving citizenship for immigrants are discussed as some long-term approaches to deter fanaticism and terrorism, as opposed to perpetuating a fear and stigmatization of the different other.