A Portales resident spent part of Thursday morning making emergency calls to relatives in Spain to make sure none of them were among the more than 190 killed and 1,400 injured there by a series of terrorist bomb attacks.
“We called up and, thank God, nobody was injured,” said Martin Keane, a graduate student at Eastern New Mexico University.
Keane’s mother is Spanish. He’s a dual citizen of both the United States and Spain, having been born in the Spanish capital of Madrid and coming to New Mexico when his father was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base. His father later retired in the community.
While much of the initial blame has focused on a separatist organization known as ETA that wants to obtain independence for the mountainous northern Basque region of Spain, Keane said he places more credibility in claims by a small group affiliated with the al-Qaida organization of Islamic terrorists.
Most of Spain was once ruled by Muslims, immigration from the Middle East has brought a sizable Muslim population back to Spain in recent years, and some al-Qaida terrorists have held meetings in Spain both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“The first thing that crossed my mind was al-Qaida finally hit because it was the 11th,” Keane said. “Knowing the past terrorist hits that ETA has done, this one doesn’t fit.”
Keane said ETA’s largest previous attack was a supermarket bombing that killed 21 in Barcelona, and ETA has never before made a large-scale attack on Spanish citizens.
“What ETA primarily wants to do is make themselves independent; they are very prideful people, just like the Spanish,” Keane said. “Honestly, I think the fact that (the Spanish) government decided to back up President Bush is what created this hostility.”
Keane said he supports the Spanish decision to join the American fight on terrorism even if it costs Spanish lives.
“I believe that this war on terrorism has to be a worldwide effort and individual countries are just not going to get it done,” Keane said. “If it is confirmed it is going to be al-Qaida, I will be very interested in what Bush’s response would be.”