11-m attacks

Interior Ministry to sanction ex-police chief over 11-M comments to EL PAÍS

Telesforo Rubio stressed lack of evidence pointing to ETA involvement in 2004 Madrid bombings

Telesforo Rubio was head of the CGI police intelligence unit from 2004 to 2006.
Telesforo Rubio was head of the CGI police intelligence unit from 2004 to 2006.Samuel Sánchez

Telesforo Rubio, the former head of the police’s CGI general intelligence division, is to face disciplinary proceedings over comments he made to EL PAÍS about the investigation into the bombings at Madrid’s Atocha train station on March 11, 2004.

Rubio spoke to EL PAÍS in March as part of a series of interviews the newspaper carried out on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks in the Spanish capital.

“During my mandate, we captured 120 or so members of ETA, and we never found anything to connect the organization with the attacks, nor with radical Islamism. Nothing,” said Rubio in the interview.

The officer was referring to conspiracy theories that Basque terrorist group ETA was behind the attacks and that the police and Socialist Party government covered up ETA’s involvement in the bombings.

According to the SUP police labor union, National Police head Ignacio Cosidó personally instructed the force’s human resources department to bring disciplinary charges against Rubio. The SUP said it was surprised at Cosidó’s decision.

Rubio, who was head of the CGI between June 2004 and September 2006, was appointed by Socialist Party Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. He soon became the target of rumors spread by the opposition Popular Party and right-wing sections of the media.

According to the SUP police labor union, the head of the National Police personally ordered disciplinary charges to be brought against Rubio

The bomb attacks took place three days before a general election that, according to opinion polls, the Popular Party looked set to win. Prime Minister José María Aznar insisted on blaming ETA for the attacks, despite mounting evidence that pointed in the direction of an Al Qaeda cell. Public anger at the government’s handling of the terror attacks is largely attributed to the Socialist Party’s victory.

Rubio was later accused in the media of involvement in a case relating to police tip-offs about raids on ETA locations.

He says that when he took over at the CGI three months after the attacks, he found it hard to believe that something on the scale of Atocha could have taken place in Spain. But his view soon changed as he began investigating the roots that radical Islam had laid.

“If you see the March 11 attacks in the context of 9/11, and then what happened three years later in London, or with what happened in Casablanca or the Paris metro, then you form a list of people and how they lived, the organizations they belonged to, how they worked, their relationships, and their communications, and all this reveals the logic of what happened here and what might have happened,” Rubio told EL PAÍS.

Rubio – who later went on to head the security attaché at the Spanish embassy in Moscow, and now occupies a low-profile position within the police force – says that when he took over at the CGI, his predecessor, Jesús de la Morena (who declined to talk to EL PAÍS), had left him a written handover of powers. “I was very surprised that the day I arrived at the new job, De la Morena had already begun working for a private security firm, so I had to find out for myself what was going on, what other anti-terrorism cases were underway.”

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