Shortly after Spanish voters rewarded the terrorists responsible for the Madrid bombing that killed 191 people -- by electing a Socialist prime minister despite polling that showed the ruling Popular Party winning before the attacks -- the thugs are back making threats. Unless Spain withdraws all Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan "completely and immediately," a letter from a self-described al Qaeda spokesman threatened, terrorists will turn Spain into an "inferno."
"This raises the stakes for Spain," noted Tucker Eskew, a former adviser to President Bush. "The gauntlet was thrown down in Madrid, and we'll see if (those in the new government) pick it up, or run from it and suffer the consequences."
The letter, deemed "credible" by the Spanish Interior Ministry, shows what happens when you give an inch to terror. The pressure didn't ease when Spanish voters switched political parties. The pressure increased and then spread so that nationals across the world live in fear of the next big attack.
Indeed, last week, NBC reported a new al Qaeda "Targets Inside Cities" list that suggested the priority in which human beings should be targeted: In order, they are Americans, British, Spanish, Australians, Canadians and Italians.
Even mild-mannered Canadians, eh?
But it figures, even if the Canadian government opposes the U.S. mission in Iraq and is not a member of the coalition. Canada sent troops to Afghanistan; it only takes one strike to earn a bull's eye.
The fact is, once it becomes legitimate for partisans to kill innocent civilians, anyone can land on the list. And it is folly to think that any group is exempt.
So Spanish voters could dethrone the party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and still find a bomb on the high-traffic, high-speed Madrid-Seville rail line last week. Now, what if Madrid caves in to the withdrawal demand? Figure at the very least that ETA, the Basque terrorist organization, will issue its own do-or-die demands.
Last week also saw the release of a report that examined the security lapses that contributed to the Aug. 19, 2003, bombing of United Nations headquarters in Iraq that wounded 150 and killed 22, including the chief U.N. representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The report blames U.N. officials who failed to secure the headquarters' perimeter and failed to have blast-resistant materials on the site's windows, corridors and glass doors.