Spanish right-wing politician Alejandro Vidal-Quadras was recovering in a hospital today after the shooting in broad daylight on a central street in the Spanish capital.
Police were ruling out no hypotheses, including a possible link to the former European lawmaker’s ties with the Iranian opposition.
A police source close to the investigation told the AP there was no evidence backing 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 several possible motives, it is understood.
Vidal-Quadras was among the first politicians to be placed on Iran’s terrorist list due to his support for the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), a group whose goal is to overthrow the Tehran regime.
Vidal-Quadras is pictured here in 2009
In a sign that police were broadening the investigation to look into the Iranian angle, another official revealed that a provincial brigade that handles terrorism and extremism cases joined late on Thursday in the inquiries.
The enquiry had previously been led by agents specialised in homicides. The sources spoke under the condition of anonymity to protect the secrecy of the inquiries, AP reported.
Vidal-Quadras, 78, was attacked at around 1:30pm near his home in the Spanish capital and he was conscious when taken to a hospital by emergency crews.
There were no immediate arrests and police were checking on surveillance footage and witness accounts to identify the shooter, who had been seen wearing a black helmet. The suspect had fired one gunshot before fleeing on a motorbike driven by an accomplice.
A charred motorbike found later in the day in a suburban town on the outskirts of Madrid was being investigated, one of the officials said.
Four hours after the shooting, Madrid’s Gregorio Marañón hospital said the gunshot had fractured Vidal Quadras’ jawbone and that he would undergo surgery.
It said the politician was in stable condition and his life was not in danger.
Vidal-Quadras was a member of Spain’s conservative Popular Party, its regional leader in Catalonia, and a European Parliament member before leaving after three decades when he fell out with then-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
After he broke away, he helped found the far-right Vox party.
He left Vox shortly after a failed attempt to win a European lawmaker seat in 2014.
As part of his political career, Vidal-Quadras has been aligned for decades with the Iranian opposition in exile, an involvement that was noticed by Tehran.
In January, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced it imposed sanctions on Vidal-Quadras along with others who had ties with 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 an organisation opposing the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The MEK operates under a variety of names, including the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran.
In mid-September, addressing a conference organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Brussels, Vidal-Quadras criticised EU officials and leaders for not being strong enough in their opposition to Iran and in their support for the exiled opposition.
The MEK also has paid former American and European officials to speak at their summits in the past. Iran’s state-run media, citing reporting by the Spanish daily newspaper El País, had in the past alleged Vidal-Quadras’ Vox party received MEK money. It described the payments as ‘terrorist money.’
‘The Iranian Resistance sees 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 fight against it,’ MEK leader Maryam Rajavi wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Reactions over the unusual shooting on a street in broad daylight poured in, with many politicians and commentators expressing surprise.
‘Thank God it seems that Alejandro Vidal-Quadras is out of danger,’ Vox President Santiago Abascal said.
Popular Party President Alberto Núñez Feijóo denounced the shooting and wished for Vidal-Quadras’ recovery. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also expressed his concern. ‘All my warmth at this moment (is) for him and his family,’ Sánchez said.
Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, also released a statement in which she condemned the ‘terrorist crime’.
‘I strongly condemn this terrorist crime, wish for 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 sees #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 fight against it.’
Shahin Gobadi, member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI, described Vidal-Quadras as ‘a distinguished and renowned Spanish politician.’
He said: ‘The former head of the People’s Party in Catalonia and the Vice President of the European Parliament for 15 years has always supported the Iranian people’s resistance for freedom and human rights during the past quarter of a century.’
A Civil Protection spokesperson said Vidal-Quadras retained consciousness and was rushed to the nearby Gregorio Marañón hospital
Police work at the site where Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former head of Spain’s People’s Party in the Catalonia region, was shot in the face, in Madrid, Spain, November 9
‘He played a critical and unforgettable role in removing the name of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) from the EU terrorist list and in protecting thousands of MEK members in Ashraf (Iraq) and their safe and collective transfer out of Iraq.’
Mr Gobadi explained that ‘the virulent enmity of the clerical regime (of Tehran) toward Alejo-Vidal-Quadras is common knowledge. He was among the first politicians the clerical regime placed on its terrorist list.’
Vidal-Quadras was a vice president for the European Parliament and took a heavy interest in foreign affairs, participating in the legislature’s delegations to the former Soviet republics Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
He has not been active in politics for several years but has maintained a public role as a media commentator and columnist.