Life had not been easy for Stefan Modol. The 45-year-old had left his native Romania, where he worked as a policeman, two years before. In Spain he sought to make a better life for his wife and three children, sending home any money he could earn working as a bricklayer. He lived in a flat in Vallecas with nine other immigrants. Each day he took the train from Santa Eugenia station to go to work. On the day of the attack he was on his way to Atocha, where he planned to take the metro to Embajadores.
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 blast killed one of the officers, bringing the total number of people killed by the 11 March killers to 192.