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Madrid Attack 2004:

Amet Oulabid, a 23-year-old carpenter, said he got off the front of the train at the Atocha station just seconds before the bomb went off in one of its rear cars.

"I saw bodies flying," he said. "There was a security guard dripping with blood. People were pushing and running. I saw a woman who had fallen on the tracks because people were pushing so hard. I escaped with my life by a hair."

At El Pozo, just east of downtown Madrid, Luz Elena Bustos, 42, got off a nearby bus just 10 minutes before the explosion at that station.

"There were pieces of flesh and ribs all over the road," she said. "There were ribs, brains all over. I never saw anything like this. The train was blown apart. I saw a lot of smoke, people running all over, crying."

People combed the city's major hospitals in search of family members who they thought were aboard the trains. "Oh, please, God! This can't be happening," said Carmen Gómez, 47, sobbing as she studied a patient list in vain at Gregorio Maranón Hospital, seven hours after the terrorist attack. "How could a human being do this?"

Most of the victims were ordinary middle- and working-class people and university students commuting into Madrid, though children were also among the dead.


Q1 - What type of transportation was targeted by the terrorists?

Q2 - What happened to the people on the trains involved?

Q3 - Do you think what happened is similar to how things might be in a war?


Witness to a Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan:

We had the windows down and were smoking, talking, when I heard a huge bang. Then I saw black. I still don’t know if it was smoke or if I actually blacked out.

When I could see again, I got out of the car and I ran. My instinct led me away. I heard gunfire. Some Afghans were running and I ran with them. We took cover behind a mound of dirt 30 or 40 yards away. Blood poured down my face. I didn’t know how badly I was wounded, and I started asking people could they tell me if I was O.K.

Crouched with me was an Afghan cameraman and some police officers. Then I looked toward the vehicles, 20 yards from where the bomb had gone off, and I saw six or seven bodies. That’s the first time I knew that people had been wounded or killed. I started to move toward the bodies, and then after 10 or 20 seconds, I thought, “Where’s Paul?”

I headed back to our vehicle. Paul was still in his seat, his right side completely covered in blood, but he seemed coherent. I spoke to him, saying, “You’re O.K.,” and things like that. He didn’t say anything. All around people were shredded like minced meat, mangled bodies missing heads, legs and arms. I didn’t see many wounded. I remember one guy alive sitting among all these bodies. I think it made an impression just because he was alive in this mess.


Q1 - Why was the man telling the story attacked? Was there a reason?

Q2 - What happened to the man's friend, Tom?

Q3 - If this happened on a street in your neighborhood, how would you react?


Personal Account of Loss from 9/11:

That night, about 30 people gathered at my folks' apartment. "I really wanted to see the body for closure," his father told us. "But they wouldn't let me. His head . . ." He started to cry.

They are astonishing people, the McIlvaines, and so is Bob's fiancée. Within a half-hour or so, they were chatting with everyone, being funny even, and trying to console the more tearful people around them, as grieving people are so often left to do. But every now and then they'd slip out of the conversation or discreetly start to weep. "The small talk, it's good for a while," Bob Sr. told me wearily. "But it's also tough. You want to be gracious to people; everyone wants to help. But you have to get away from it. Eventually, you have to be alone."

I kept watching my brother. He has said very little through this; the words he's looking for seem to be buried in his grief. I wanted to tell him that one day, though it seems improbable now, he'll find another person with whom he can speak in shorthand, move through the world, and accumulate a history.

He finally opened up a bit around midnight, as the guests cleared. "The weather has been so beautiful these last three nights," he murmured. "Every outdoor café and bar uptown has been full. And yet, when I realize that people are using this as an opportunity to have a few drinks . . . I mean, on the one hand, I'm very jealous. On the other, I'm very resentful. It's impossible to imagine a single day of my life without Bob."


Q1 - How did these people deal with losing a loved one?

Q2 - What effect did losing Bob have on the rest of his family?

Q3 - Do you think you would respond similarly if you lost a family member to a terrorist attack?


Suicide Bomber in Israel:

A witness to yesterday's suicide bombing, who gave his name as Avi, said: "People were screaming. I found a woman with a cut on her throat. I put a piece of cloth on it, and rushed her to an ambulance. Then I pulled out an other young woman who was buried under a heap of shoeboxes. Her hair was burnt."

Reflecting the increasing anger of Israeli hardliners, Asher Bakshi, an Iranian Jew who works in the shop, said: "What is the world doing to protect us? You should just let us kill them all. Our army could do it in 24 hours. And then it would be over."

Among those who rushed to the scene was Jerusalem's mayor, Ehud Omer. Asked if the Israeli security forces could prevent further lethal attacks in the city he said: "I cannot give you an assurance that this will not happen again. This is a long war and there will be casualties."


Q1 - What is your reaction to these individuals statements?

Q2 - Are the people optimistic or pessimistic about the situation? What impact do their views have on future events?

Q3 - Is it ok to react to violence with more violence? why or why not?