Madrid Train Bombings Anniversary: A Terror Attack That Changed Europe

(New York, N.Y.) – Today, Europe remembers the 16th anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, which marked the beginning of a wave of terror attacks that have been plaguing the continent ever since.

On March 11, 2004, ten bombs on four commuter trains in Madrid killed 193 people and injured more than 1,800. Two days later, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, making Spain suffer the worst Islamist attack in European history.

David Ibsen, executive director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), stated:

“Prior to the 11-M attacks in Spain, Islamist terrorism was perceived as a faraway problem in Europe. It became clear, however, that this was a false assumption. The Madrid train bombings marked a new chapter for the continent and demonstrated that al-Qaeda was determined to hit all Western countries. Since then, Islamist terrorism has rightly been acknowledged as a significant threat to citizens. European authorities reacted promptly by passing crucial anti-terrorism laws and have been working to tackle this multilayered problem. Radicalization offline and online, as well as terrorism financing, are only a few aspects we need to address. Over the years, terrorism has become more complex and brought new challenges. If we want to rise to this challenge, we need to be quick, vigilant, and work together. We should not forget that the threat has not diminished.”

To learn more about the CEP report Spain: Extremism & Counter-Extremism, please click here.

Related Press Resources

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

View Archive