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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Blood on the Streets, Just Not Here Thursday began with the staccato beat of bad news from Spain, where a series of explosions ripped through a line of railcars during the rush hour in Madrid, destroying nearly two hundred lives while wounding fourteen hundred others.
Blame was, early on, put on Basque Separatists though news reporters were careful to state that if indeed this was the act of the separatists, it marked a serious departure from their general tactics.
When I saw the events on television while sipping my morning coffee and while doing my morning e-mails I thought: this is Madrid's 9/11. Unfortunately, it seemed all too prescient a thought as later in the day it was revealed that responsibility for the tragic events was claimed by Al Qaida and not the Basques.

My heart ached for Madrid, a city I have visited several times and whose streets I have strolled and whose museums I have admired. It is a city that has been reborn in the years since Franco, transforming itself from a faded beauty to a cosmopolitan lady.

This, I am afraid, may be the price they are paying for having sided with us on Iraq. What better way to make a statement? Spain is not as tightly guarded as Britain, a country that has more experience with terrorist activities than any other in the world perhaps.
As Spain suffered, our news gave it weight but not precedence. We sailed straight into the ongoing Martha drama, the controversy over gay marriage, the demand from the Bush Campaign that Kerry offer an apology for calling some Republicans ?crooks?, a train wreck in Queens where one went runaway.
As the day went on I found myself wondering what it was that was bothering me regarding the Madrid story. By evening I had the answer: I was not getting enough information from the U.S. news channels to satisfy me.

And with the realization that this may well have been an attack by Al Qaida I felt I wanted to know even more. I felt a unity with Madrid based in the fact I was in New York, when 9/11 came. Nothing I saw on U.S. television took me inside the event. And having been inside that event, I wanted, needed to feel inside this event.

God love the BBC as their coverage took me there and helped me be in Madrid. Whether it was ETA or Al Qaida it was an act of terrorism and the results of terrorism is something I have seen in the face. The weeping faces in Madrid were like the weeping faces I saw coming up West Broadway from the World Trade Center. The lines of people giving blood were like the lines of people giving blood in New York.

It is the reality of our world; it is part of the new ?normal? that has become part of our lives, a reality that terror must now be thought of on a daily basis as a genuine threat and a real possibility.
Certainly I thought of it as I rode the subway up from downtown to my office and will think of as I ride it again tomorrow and every day until there is a time when terror is not part of our lives ? and that, I am afraid, will not come in my lifetime.

There is a part of me that wants to go to Madrid and stand with them at one of their vigils, hold a candle with them and say prayers with them. As Al Qaida claimed responsibility for Madrid, it also announced it was 90% finished with planning another attack on the United States. Wall Street plunged on the news of possible Al Qaida involvement and whether it was ETA or Al Qaida, hundreds are hurt and too many are dead. One of the Spanish individuals interviewed by the BBC said, "All of Spain was riding on that train."
Not just all of Spain was riding on that train but all of us also.