Iran has been linked to the assassination attempt on a Spanish politician who was shot in the face in Madrid on Thursday.
Spanish right-wing politician Alejandro Vidal-Quadras was recovering in hospital today after the broad daylight shooting on a central street in the Spanish capital.
Police did not rule out any hypotheses, including a possible link with the former European lawmaker’s ties to the Iranian opposition.
A police source close to the investigation told the AP that there was no evidence to support the Iranian link, but confirmed that Vidal-Quadras himself had raised that suspicion from his hospital bed and that investigators were looking into it.
An Iranian connection to the attempt is one of the possible motives.
Vidal-Quadras is pictured here in 2009
In a sign that police were expanding the investigation to include the Iranian angle, another official revealed that a provincial brigade that handles cases of terrorism and extremism joined the probe late on Thursday.
The investigation was previously led by officers who specialized in homicide cases. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect the confidentiality of the investigations, AP reported.
Vidal-Quadras, 78, was attacked near his home in the Spanish capital at around 1.30pm and was conscious when emergency services took him to hospital.
No immediate arrests were made and police checked surveillance footage and witness statements to identify the gunman, who was seen wearing a black helmet. The suspect fired one shot before fleeing on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.
A charred motorcycle found later in the day in a suburb on the outskirts of Madrid is under investigation, one of the officials said.
Four hours after the shooting, Madrid’s Gregorio Marañón Hospital said the shot had broken Vidal Quadras’ jawbone and he would undergo surgery.
It said the politician’s condition was stable and his life was not in danger.
Vidal-Quadras was a member of Spain’s conservative People’s Party, the regional leader in Catalonia, and a member of the European Parliament before leaving after 30 years when he fell out with then Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
After breaking away, he helped found the far-right Vox party.
He left Vox shortly after a failed attempt to win a seat in the European Parliament in 2014.
As part of his political career, Vidal-Quadras has aligned himself with the Iranian opposition in exile for decades, an involvement noted by Tehran.
In January, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced it had imposed sanctions on Vidal-Quadras, along with others linked to the exiled opposition group known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, accusing them of “supporting terrorism and terrorist groups’.
The group, known as the MEK, began as a Marxist organization that opposed the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It alleged – and was suspected of – a series of attacks on US officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
The MEK operates under various names, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.
In mid-September, speaking at a conference organized by the NCRI in Brussels, Vidal-Quadras criticized European Union officials and leaders for not being strong enough in their opposition to Iran and in their support for the exiled opposition.
The MEK has also paid former US and European officials to speak at their summits in the past.
Iranian state media had in the past claimed, citing reports from Spanish daily El País, that Vidal-Quadras’ Vox party had received MEK money.
It described the payments as “terrorist money.”
“The Iranian Resistance considers Iran’s ruling religious fascism as the first suspect accused in this case, as Prof. Vidal-Quadras has dedicated an important part of his life to fighting it,” MEK leader Maryam Rajavi wrote on X , formerly Twitter.
Reactions to the unusual street shooting in broad daylight poured in, with many politicians and commentators expressing their surprise.
“Thank God it looks like Alejandro Vidal-Quadras is out of danger,” said Vox president Santiago Abascal.
Party chairman Alberto Núñez Feijóo denounced the shooting and wished for Vidal-Quadras’ recovery. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also expressed his concerns.
“All my warmth at this moment is for him and his family,” Sánchez said on X.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), also released a statement condemning the “terrorist crime.”
A Civil Protection spokesman said Vidal-Quadras retained consciousness and was rushed to nearby Gregorio Marañón Hospital.
Police work at the site where Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former head of the Spanish People’s Party in the Catalonia region, was shot in the face, in Madrid, Spain, on November 9
“I strongly condemn this terrorist crime, wish the speedy recovery of Prof. Vidal and express my deep solidarity with his family,” she said on X.
“I call for the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of this terrorist crime. The Iranian Resistance considers Iran’s ruling religious fascism as the first suspect accused in this case, as Prof. Vidal Quadras has dedicated an important part of his life to fighting against it.”
Vidal-Quadras was Vice-President of the European Parliament and had a keen interest in foreign affairs. He took part in the delegations of the legislature to the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
He has not been active in politics for a number of years, but has fulfilled a public role as a media commentator and columnist.