Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2018, 13:43 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 July 2017
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), 19 July 2017, available at: [accessed 16 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

aka ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in the Spanish Basque provinces of Alava, Guipuzcoa, and Viscaya; the autonomous region of Navarre; and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Lower-Navarre, and Soule.

Activities: ETA has primarily conducted bombings and assassinations. Targets typically include Spanish government officials, businessmen, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces; however, the group has also targeted journalists and major tourist areas. ETA is responsible for killing 829 civilians and members of the armed forces and police, and injuring thousands since it formally began its campaign of violence in 1968.

ETA has committed numerous attacks in the last four decades, including the February 2005 car bombing in Madrid that wounded more than 20 people at a convention center where Spanish King Juan Carlos and then-Mexican President Vicente Fox were scheduled to appear. In December 2006, ETA exploded a massive car bomb destroying much of the covered parking garage at Madrid's Barajas International Airport. ETA marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2009 with a series of high profile and deadly bombings, including the July 2009 attack on a Civil Guard Barracks that injured more than 60 men, women, and children.

ETA has not launched any attacks since it announced a "definitive cessation of armed activity" in October 2011.

At the end of 2016, the group had yet to formally disband or give up its weapons arsenal. Authorities seized ETA weapons in 2016, including a cache found in a forest north of Paris. In 2016, the presumed top ETA leader was also captured in a joint French and Spanish operation near the French border with Spain.

Strength: Since 2004, more than 900 ETA militants have been arrested both in Spain and abroad. It is unknown how many ETA members remain.

Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, and Madrid.

Funding and External Aid: ETA is probably experiencing financial shortages given that the group announced publicly in September 2011 that it had ceased collecting "revolutionary taxes" from Basque businesses. Sources of ETA funding were unknown in 2016.

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