Incident Summary:

03/11/2004: At 7:37 a.m. local time three bombs exploded inside the third, fourth, and sixth cars of a train inside Atocha Station, killing at least 34 people and wounding many more. The attack was a part of a series of ten bombs that exploded on trains on Madrid's commuter line during the morning rush hour, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1800 others. Police initially accused the Basque separatist group Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) of the attack, which occurred three days before Spain's general election, but Islamic extremists were soon found to be the perpetrators. Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, a group said to be associated with Al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was retribution for Spain's cooperation with the United States in the Iraq War. In October 2007, twenty-one suspects were convicted and seven others were acquitted of charges related to the attacks. In July 2008, four of the convictions and one of the acquittals were reversed. Court proceedings indicate that Islamist extremists coordinated by Al-Qaida were responsible for the attacks, but it is unclear if the claim of responsibility from Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades is valid.




Western Europe

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Transportation
Name of Entity Civilians
Specific Description Indiscriminate civilians on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain.
Nationality of Target Spain
Target Type: Transportation
Name of Entity Commuter Train
Specific Description Commuter trains in Madrid, Spain.
Nationality of Target Spain
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Major (likely > $1 million but < $1 billion)
Value of Property Damage $6,600,000.00
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives Dynamite/TNT
Weapon Details
Twenty two pounds of explosives were located in backpacks and detonated by cell phones.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?Yes
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information This was one of six related attacks (cf. 20040311001; 20040311003-07). The injury and property damage figures were reported cumulatively for the four blasts, so they have been divided equally across the cases in order to preserve the statistical accuracy of the database. After the attacks, police discovered a stolen van containing seven detonators and an Arabic language tape near the Atocha station. London-based newspaper Al-Qods al-Arabi received an email claiming responsibility from Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades on the day of the attack and a videotape found at a mosque in Madrid two days later also claimed responsibility by that group. On April 3, 2004, seven key suspects committed suicide during a police raid on their Madrid apartment; among of whom was Jamal Ahmidan, a Moroccan believed to have been the central figure in the financing, planning and execution of the attacks. According to the Associated Press, it cost the perpetrators $120,000 to carry out the attacks, ranging from the cost of buying explosives to renting safe-houses. Of the 29 charged, three men were charged with murder: Jamal Zougam, a Moroccan merchant who allegedly supplied the cell phones used as detonators; Emilio Suarez Trashorras, a Spaniard accused of supplying the dynamite; and Abdelmajid Bouchar, a Moroccan. Rabei Osman, an Egyptian who claimed that the attacks were his idea, is among three other men accused of conspiracy to commit murder.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Al-Qaida (suspected) Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: E-mail)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 18
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 37 Fatalities / 450 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 37
Number of U.S. Fatalities Unknown
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 450
Number of U.S. Injured Unknown
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Timeline of Events in Madrid Train Bombings," Agence France Presse, February 14, 2007.
"Madrid Attacks Timeline," BBC Online, March 12, 2004.
Daniel Woolls, “Judge Indicts 29 People over Madrid Terror Bombings that Killed 191 People,” Associated Press, April 12, 2006.