3-11 Madrid Bombings


On March 11, 2004 several commuter trains in Madrid were bombed. This was the worst terrorist attack in Spain's history. Spaniards would view it as an equivalent to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 here in the United States. In fact, there were exactly 911 days in between September 11, 2001 and March 11, 2004. The Madrid bombings killed 191 people and hurt more than 1,800 others. Thirteen bombs called backpack bombs were left on different passenger trains that day, but three of the bombs failed to explode.

The three bombs that failed to go off provided Crime Scene Investigators in Spain with evidence of who committed the attack. The other ten bombs went off during peak time of morning commute on that Thursday morning in March. Three bombs exploded at the Atocha Station at approximately 7:38 am. Meanwhile, at the El Pozo del Tio Raimundo Station two bombs went off on the train at 7:38 am. At the Santa Eugenia Station just one bomb exploded at 7:38 am. Finally, four bombs exploded at Calle Tellez at 7:39 am. The train numbers in which the bombs went off were 21431, 21435, 21713, and 17305. You did not have to be a genius to, at this point, know that all of these bombings were connected and it was indeed a terrorist attack.

Relief workers were able to arrive at the scene shortly after 8:00 am. They had to set up a field hospital with the help of many volunteers. The number of those wounded and the number of casualties were not officially known until a few days after the attack.

As for who carried out and planned this very unfortunate event, the fingers are all pointed at a group of terrorists from Morocco, Syria, and Algeria. Also included were two Guarda Civil and Spanish Police Informants. It is not 100% sure who was responsible this attack but many believe it was this group of people. Whoever is to blame covered their tracks very well. They had their bombs hidden in backpacks set to go off with timers. There were three men though who got on and off the trains between 7:00 am and 7:10 am who were disguised in ski masks. There was also a van found in the parking lot of one of the stations with cell phones, detonators, and other valuable electronic equipment.

In the aftermath of this all, Spain, and Madrid especially, was devastated. Streets, trains, train tracks, and train stations were damaged severely. The bombings took place three days before Spain's general elections, and the way the bombings were handled by the government is believed to have had a huge impact on the way people voted that day. In the ensuing investigation, a group of Spanish miners were arrested for selling explosives to the bombers. In 2007, Jamal Zougam was one of six men implicated in the attacks. He was convicted of 191 counts of murder and 1,856 charges of attempted murder. He was sentenced to more that 42,000 years in prison.