MADRID, Spain (Reuters) – Spanish investigators give credence to a letter purportedly from al Qaeda and sent to the newspaper ABC threatening more bombings unless Spain withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“In principle, the letter is given certain credibility, although the analysis is not yet complete. We believe it could have been sent by people directly involved in recent events,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
The letter was signed by the same name — Abu Dujana al Afgani, also written as Abu Duham al Afgani — as that given by a man in a videotape who claimed responsibility for the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.
Both the letter and the video claimed to be from al Qaeda in Europe.
The video surfaced two days after the attacks and one day before Spanish general elections, saying the train bombings were revenge for the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The letter, published in Monday’s editions of ABC, claims responsibility for the March 11 attacks as well as the bomb planted on a high-speed rail line on Friday and says a previous truce with Spain ended as of midday Sunday.
ABC said it received the hand-written letter by fax around the same time as the Saturday night police raid in a Madrid suburb in which five suspects from the train bombings blew themselves up and killed a police special agent.
Police say the bombers were equipped to attack again with at least two unexploded bombs found in the destroyed apartment.
The ministry spokesman said investigators did not believe there was any connection between the group behind the letter and militant Shi’ites in Iraq who clashed with Spanish troops near the holy city of Najaf on Sunday, resulting in some 20 deaths.
The bomb found on the train line did not explode as its detonator was not property connected. The letter said the bomb was “only an announcement that we have the force and capacity — with the permission of Allah the Highest — to attack when we want and how we want.”
The letter accused the Spanish state of “injustices and aggression against the Muslims” and took issue with the Spanish plan “to send more troops to Afghanistan.”
Amid the fallout from the Madrid train bombings, Spanish voters threw out a strongly pro-American party that supported the war in Iraq and sent 1,300 troops there after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Incoming Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has stood by his campaign pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge there by June 30.
The Socialists have said they were considering sending more Spanish troops to Afghanistan beyond the 125 currently stationed there.