On March 12, 2004, the anti-terrorist services of the Ertzaintza prepared a “secret” report with the code 101L0400250 and under the title “Repercussions of the Atocha attack” in which they explained that the Government of José María Aznar mobilized the spies of the Center National Intelligence (CNI) in Euskadi “to search for information that would link ETA” with the authorship of the massacre that occurred in Madrid 24 hours earlier. A confidant of the Basque Police in the capital of Spain reported that the PP Executive was “trying by all means to link ETA with the Arabs until after the general elections,” which were to take place 48 hours later. “If this was not achieved, everyone would go on strike,” can be read in the confidential document to which elDiario.es/Euskadi has had access and which shows that the maneuvers to manipulate public opinion were launched immediately after the stroke.

The informant, nicknamed ‘Zulo’, had the highest rating as a source in the database of the Information and Analysis Unit (UIA, the acronym of the anti-terrorist team of the Basque Police at that time, which has also been AVCS. DAI or now OCI). The Ertzaintza, at least at that time, used a three-level scale to classify its confidants: ‘A’ for the best, ‘B’ for the intermediate and ‘C’ for the least reliable. ‘Zulo’ was type ‘A’. Regarding the “reliability” of the revelations, also measured on the scale of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, he received a ‘B’ because “the information would have to be worked on a little more.”

The report is written entirely in capital letters, which is how the UIA worked. It was prepared at 10:15 a.m. on March 12, in a hurry, given the numerous editorial errors. The most relevant, which forced a subsequent correction, is that he called “Alkaeida” “Al Qaeda”, the most active jihadist organization at that time, which started two and a half years earlier with 9/11 in the United States. At that time, the UIA was focused on the fight against ETA and its entourage, and had no specialization against this type of terrorism. Years later, now converted into OCI, it has been evolving and incorporating new profiles of analysts and sources. There are already agents who are fluent in Arabic, for example.

What does the confidential report say? The Ertzaintza explains that, “after the Atocha attack, people related to the CNI in Gasteiz were mobilized to search for information that linked ETA with Alkaeida. [sic]”. The Basque Police indicates that “these people”, that is, the Spanish secret services and, therefore, the Government, “knew since midday” on 11M that “there was a car with explosives and some Arab document” – in reference to the van located in Alcalá on the same day the 11th with seven detonators and a tape with Koranic verses – not clues that led to ETA. The interest in searching for links was such that, “as the day went by, they began to look for a website of Italian origin that could comment on ETA’s relationship with Arab organizations,” the report states.

The CNI contacted ‘Zulo’ at 8:00 p.m. on March 11, 2004, the same day of the attack. They spoke “several times.” The confidant, who also had contacts in the Civil Guard, later reported to the Ertzaintza: “The Government of Madrid [en referencia al de España] is quite hated [sic] because they knew that it was not ETA and it was Alkaeida.” “We had to try by all means to link ETA with the Arabs until after the elections, since if this was not achieved, everyone would go on strike,” the document can also be read. The secret services even asked their interlocutor to do everything possible in his work to disseminate the thesis of ETA authorship or, at least, about the relationship with “the Arabs” of the Basque organization. “Confusion had to be created until after the elections since there was a lot at stake,” it is also indicated.

The fact that the Aznar Government pointed out ETA motivated the Lehendakari, then Juan José Ibarretxe, of the PNV, to make a harsh statement in the early morning hours of the 11th against this organization, whose members he called “vermin.” “They are not Basques; They are simply murderers,” he declared forcefully. Later, the then leader of the Abertzale left, Arnaldo Otegi, denied in a press conference that ETA was behind the Atocha massacre, due to the ‘modus operandi’ and its objectives. He also explained that the most logical hypothesis was that of jihadism and related it to Spain’s support for the United States in the Iraq war. Their group was then called Batasuna and was illegal for giving political cover to violence. ETA had not killed since May 2003 and would not do so again until December 2006, in T4 of the Barajas airport, although in the summer of 2004 it did place bombs without fatalities in different cities on the Spanish coast.

The maneuvers launched after the Atocha attacks by the Government of José María Aznar, such as those detailed in the report, did not work in the face of growing evidence of jihadist responsibility. Five people were arrested for their connection to the attacks during the day of reflection. On March 14, 2004, general elections were held. The PP, which had Mariano Rajoy as leader for the first time, lost to the socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The origin of the report: a corruption summary

This document and other internal reports of the Ertzaintza on the Abertzale left, the Civil Guard, the ETA environment or relevant Basque political issues in those years were declassified within the framework of a corruption investigation. In March 2010, now 14 years ago, the judge of Vitoria Roberto Ramos and the then chief prosecutor of Álava, Josu Izaguirre, ordered the arrest of three leaders of the PNV of Álava, Alfredo de Miguel, Koldo Ochandiano and Aitor Tellería. Their homes were searched and their computer equipment was seized.

It was the beginning of the ‘Miguel case’, the largest plot uncovered so far in Euskadi and which has had the three in prison since last year, as well as the former PNV official Xabier Sánchez Robles. In the review of a hard drive of Tellería, who had also been a councilor in Vitoria and a juntero or director of Agriculture in Álava, six files with a police appearance appeared. Ertzaintza confidants were mentioned, they were written in capital letters and some UIA agents were mentioned by their internal nickname.

For this reason, Ramos and Izaguirre opened a separate case and also charged two ertzainas from the Álava office of the UIA who, in addition, were members of the PNV or very close to it. From that same unit the summary of the ‘De Miguel case’ had previously been accessed irregularly on the same day of the arrests. It is in this investigation where dozens of internal documents from the Ertzaintza anti-terrorist services appeared. The case ‘burned’ sources and procedures and exposed the weaknesses of the UIA, which often had to resort to double agents to obtain data. There was a trial in 2013 and Tellería and the two police officers were acquitted because the files found were not internal documents as such and because there was a lack of evidence to prove that Tellería directed a parallel espionage network using police means.

Due to the sensitivity of the material, the report on 11M and the rest of the internal reports arrived at the court with maximum security measures. The ertzaina 03701, of the Judicial Police, collected a bag with confidential material at the central base of the force, in Erandio, on January 5, 2011. The seal C153556 was placed on it. When it arrived in Vitoria, ertzaina 06312 was in charge of its custody. After the Christmas festivities, on January 10, the bag was presented to Judge Ramos. A judicial secretary took minutes of the opening of the bag. She described it as “a dark blue storage bag or sack” that came “perfectly sealed” and that “closes with a zipper that is sealed.” “On the sealing of the zipper there is the following number: C153556,” she writes.

Judge Ramos himself opened the bag and found a letter from the head of the anti-terrorist unit with an explanation of the material, a red binder with the reports (175 pages) and also a list of police informants among whom, for example, the name of a direct relative of the leader of one of the main political parties in Spain, as well as journalists, agents from other bodies or businessmen.


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