Javier Mengíbar, aged 43, was born in Lima (Peru), but returned to Spain with his family shortly afterwards. He was a trained psychologist and had worked as a teacher before obtaining a post as an international cooperation officer at the Ministry of Education. He lived in Alcalá de Henares with his wife and two daughters, and commuted by train each day to his work on Calle de Alcalá, Madrid.
11 March 2004 fell on a Thursday. Early that morning, a number of terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda planted thirteen bombs on four suburban trains covering routes running through Madrid. Ten of the bombs exploded between 7.37 and 7.39 am, when the trains were at Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia stations and alongside Calle Téllez. 191 people were killed in the attack and around 1,500 were wounded. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Spanish history. On 3 April 2004, agents from the Special Operations Group (GEO) were about to enter an apartment in Leganés where the perpetrators of the attacks were believed to be hiding when the terrorists detonated twenty kilograms of explosives in an act of collective suicide. The ensuing blast killed one of the officers, bringing the total number of people killed by the 11 March bombers to 192.