CAIRO, Egypt – An Arabic newspaper said Thursday it had received a claim of responsibility for the Madrid train bombings issued in the name of Al Qaeda (search). The claim also said that a major attack against America was "90 percent ready."
The five-page e-mail claim, signed by the shadowy Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri (search), was received at Al-Quds al-Arabi's (search) London offices. It said the brigade's "death squad" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain," and carried out what it called Operation Death Trains.
"This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said.
Referring to Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (search), the statement asked: "Aznar, where is America? Who will protect you, Britain, Japan, Italy and others from us?"
The newspaper faxed the claim to The Associated Press office in Cairo.
The statement warned the United States that a major strike is approaching.
"We announce the good news for the Muslims in the world that the strike of the black wind of death, the expected strike against America, is now at its final stage -- 90 percent ready -- and it is coming soon, by God's will," the claim said.
Asked about the claim of responsibility, White House spokesman Sean McCormack said "we've seen the news reports and we're going to determine what the facts are."
There was no way to verify the claim came from Al Qaeda, though the editor of Al-Quds al-Arabi, Abdel Bari Atwan, said the phrasing sounded like the terrorist group.
The message also referred to last year's attack on Italian paramilitary police serving in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
"When we attacked the Italian troops in Nasiriyah and sent you and America's agents an ultimatum to withdraw from the anti-Islam alliance, you did not understand the message. Now we have made it clear and hope that this time you will understand," the statement said.
"We, at the Abu Hafs brigades, have not felt sad for the so-called civilians," the statement in an apparent reference to the hundreds of casualties in Thursday's attacks in Madrid.
"Is it OK for you to kill our children, women, old people and youth in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir? And is it forbidden to us to kill yours?" the claim asked.
The statement said another Al Qaeda squad, Jund al-Quds (search) or Soldiers of Jerusalem, had carried out Tuesday night's attack on a Masonic lodge in Istanbul, Turkey.
"All the Masons would have been killed but there was a technical fault. So because God wished it, only three were killed," the statement said.
In the attack, two homicide bombers opened fire in the lodge's dining hall, killing a waiter and wounding five other people. The attackers then detonated rudimentary explosives. One assailant died in the blast while the other was severely wounded.