Powell: Madrid Bombings Show 'Terror Must Be Fought'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 14, 2004 As new evidence points to the possibility that al Qaeda is responsible for the March 11 bombings in Madrid, Spain, America's top diplomat today noted in a television interview here that no country is immune to terrorism.
The Spanish commuter train bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded more than 1,400, shows "there is a war on terror that must be fought," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said to interviewer Chris Wallace on the "Fox News Sunday" program.
Spain, a U.S. ally in the global war on terrorism, sent 1,300 troops to support efforts to establish a democratic government in Iraq. Fugitive al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has threatened Spain for its support.
Spanish authorities first blamed the Madrid attacks on the country's Basque separatist group, known as ETA. However, news reports now say a videotape received by Spanish authorities allegedly shows al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the bombings.
Powell said "nobody is immune" from terrorist attack. The Madrid bombings, he said, should serve as rationale to "redouble everyone's efforts to go after terrorist organizations of any kind, whether it is ETA, whether it is al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.
"Terror," Powell emphasized, "has to be brought to an end," noting the Spanish "will get to the bottom" of who conducted the Madrid bombings.
Much has been accomplished in the anti-terror war, Powell noted to Wallace. Last year's successful U.S.-coalition military campaign against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, he pointed out, removed a ruthless despot who had used weapons of mass destruction.
The recently approved interim Iraqi constitution, Powell noted, "gives the Iraqi people -- for the first time -- a bill of rights (and) puts in place an independent judiciary."
Powell also discussed Iraq on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" program with the show's host and commentator George Will.
"The Iraqi people seem to want a democracy they enjoy the ability to speak out," Powell said, noting that the United States won't abandon Iraq after the June 30 transfer of sovereignty.
"We will continue to have 100,000 troops there, helping them with their security," Powell said. In the meantime, he added, Iraqi security forces will gain more experience and ability.
Over the coming months, Iraqi authorities will need "to determine what kind of government they want to have during this interim period," Powell said.
"There is a lot more to come," he noted -- "the writing of a full constitution, real, full national elections for an assembly and for a new government."