After the attacks in Madrid, Spaniards reacted with a demonstration of collective resolve that brought 10 million people to the streets to protest the terrorists, as well as Spain's involvement in Iraq. The new government deployed investigators to follow up leads and penetrate Moroccan cells with purported links to Al Qaeda, which turned out to be behind the attacks.
Antiterrorism police have arrested 68 people in connection with the train bombings, including 20 believed to have been directly involved. The suspects are alleged to form a web that ranges from Moroccan cell-phone store owners who perhaps unwittingly helped the terrorists obtain and program phones used to trigger bombs, to Spanish nationals who helped secure some of the explosives, to a core of 20 militants who more actively took part in planning and coordinating the bombings.
The core cell has been dismantled, according to Spanish law enforcement officials. A suspected mastermind of the operation, Rabei Osman Ahmed, is awaiting extradition from Italy under a new EU extradition agreement. A second purported coordinator is in custody in Spain and a third was killed when he exploded a bomb as police tried to capture him, authorities said.
German and French counter-terrorism officials have also made significant gains in disrupting Islamic militant cells through sweeps and key arrests. However, these countries have also suffered setbacks in obtaining convictions. In some cases this is because the FBI and CIA are reluctant to share intelligence on Al Qaeda; in others it is because the kind of information obtained by the United States is deemed inadmissible in European courts.
The Zapatero government has worked to build bridges with the immigrant Muslim community, , and the new foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, has gone on a diplomatic offensive to improve ties with its neighbor, Morocco, and other Muslim countries, relations that were frayed by Aznar's support for the [Iraq] war. ....
The differences between the United States and Europe were evident in the aftermath of the two attacks: While Americans rallied around the flag, Spaniards chose a less political symbol -- a white hand.
At public vigils, millions of Spaniards held up hands painted white, a symbol that for a decade has been used to protest Basque terrorism -- making the point that those with clean hands outnumber and will defeat those whose hands are stained with blood.