MADRID (AP) — Spanish right-wing politician Alejandro Vidal-Quadras was recovering in a hospital Thursday after being shot in the face in broad daylight on a central Madrid street. 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 Associated Press 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 as one of several possible motives.
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 previously led by agents specialized in homicides.
Both officials spoke to AP under the condition of anonymity to protect the secrecy of the inquiries.
Vidal-Quadras, 78, was attacked at around 1:30 p.m. 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 a Marxist organization opposing the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It claimed — and was suspected of — a series of attacks against U.S. officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
The MEK operates under a variety of names, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.
In mid-September, addressing 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 also has paid former American and European officials to speak at their summits in the past.
Iran’s state-run media in the past, citing reporting by the Spanish daily newspaper El País, had alleged Vidal-Quadras’ Vox party had 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 on X.
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.
Wilson reported from Barcelona, Spain. Jon Gambrell contributed from Dubai.