The Corner

Either/or Versus Both-And

Note: I think this is very unlikely.

But all of the coverage of the Madrid bombings focuses on whether it ETA or Al Qaeda <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/12/international/europe/12TERR.html?hp=&pagewanted=all&position=

” target=”_blank”> (See today’s Times, for example). What if the real scenario is closer to both-and? First, if it’s al Qaeda, the thinking seems to be that it’s onee of al Qaeda’s subsidiaries. Second, there’s been a lot of conjecture that if this is was ETA then it probably isn’t the main faction of ETA. Their political arm, after all, condemned the bombings. So if it was the Basques it was probably a rogue faction.

Now, Al Qaeda is, we’ve been told time and again, a “terrorist holding company.” What if one of these splinter groups of al Qaeda found common cause with a splinter group ETA? It is not like terrorist groups — and regimes — haven’t formed absurd marriages of convenience before (Molotov-Ribbentrop pact anyone?). Remember all of the weird links between and among the IRA, Libya, the Palestinians and the Sandanistas and others during the 1980s?

Indeed, the Islamists could have duped ETA into doing something like this — or vice versa.

What would make that so troubling is that it would give Al Qaeda a new way of getting around most of the usual security measures designed to foil Islamist attacks. Anyway, just something to ponder.

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