Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 12:36 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Spain

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 31 July 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Spain, 31 July 2012, available at: [accessed 21 November 2017]
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.

Overview: Spain continued to confront the threat posed by the domestic terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), as well as the transnational threat from al-Qa'ida (AQ) and its affiliates. With sustained focused international cooperation, in particular with France, Spain enjoyed such success in battling ETA that the weakened terrorist group announced a "definitive cessation of armed activity." Spain's attention also focused on the continued kidnapping threat presented by al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), by increasing its cooperation with Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania. Spain cooperated closely with the United States to counter terrorism and was a cooperative partner in joint investigations and information sharing.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: While no terrorist attacks occurred in Spain in 2011, four Spanish hostages were kidnapped. On October 22, two Spaniards and an Italian were taken out of the Rabuni Sahrawi refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria. Public reporting described the group claiming responsibility, Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad fi Garbi Afriqqiya, as a breakaway faction of AQIM interested in kidnapping for ransom. On October 13, two Spaniards working with Doctors Without Borders were kidnapped allegedly by al-Shabaab from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. The Spanish government was working on both cases with local authorities to find their citizens at year's end.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Spain continued to focus on improved security and the detection of false documents at its borders in 2011. Spain participated in the U.S. Immigration Advisory Program, which maintained staff at Madrid-Barajas International Airport. The program allowed coordination between Customs and Border Protection officers, airline security personnel, and police regarding high risk passengers traveling to the United States. Spain continued to roll out an automated system to read European Union (EU) passports with biometric data. Explosive trace detection equipment was also deployed at Spain's five largest airports at passenger checkpoints. Spain installed a network of radar stations, known as the Integrated External Surveillance System, along its maritime borders. Spain continued its participation in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives.

On September 27, Spanish security forces arrested five Algerians suspected of giving logistical and financial support to AQIM. Though released from custody by the Spanish courts for lack of evidence, Spanish police and judicial authorities cooperated with other countries (including Italy, France, and Switzerland) and maintained an active investigation to gather evidence in the case. In June, Spanish security forces also arrested a Moroccan national in the Canary Islands for terrorist recruiting activities and links to terrorists currently serving sentences in Morocco. The Civil Guard arrested a Moroccan national, previously expelled from Jordan, for running a violent extremist web forum and having alleged ties to AQIM members.

In cooperation with international partners, security services also arrested 52 alleged ETA members or associates, including 29 in France and three in other countries. Key raids included:

  • On January 17, Spanish National Police and the Civil Guard arrested 11 people linked to ETA that allegedly had received orders to rebuild a hard-line faction within the organization.

  • On March 11, a French police raid captured ETA leader Alejandro Zobaran Arriola and three other suspects in a remote village near the Belgian border.

  • On April 12, Spanish police seized 850 kilograms of bomb-making material from an ETA hideout and arrested two people. On April 14, a third arrest was made and an additional 750 kilograms of bomb-making material was seized. The combined total of 1,600 kilograms was the largest ever seizure from ETA in Spain.

  • On July 7, one of Spain's most wanted ETA terrorists, Eneko Gogeaskoetxea, was arrested in Cambridge, UK, following a 14-year manhunt following his attempt to assassinate King Juan Carlos I at a 1997 event in Bilbao.

Spanish security forces and Spain's judicial system continued investigations into allegations of ETA training camps in Venezuela. In January, in a joint operation with French police, the Civil Guard arrested an ETA information technology specialist who had previously traveled to Venezuela to train ETA and Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) members. On June 17, Inaki Dominguez Atxalandabaso was arrested in France, under a National Court arrest warrant for allegedly training FARC members in Venezuela.

Countering Terrorist Finance: A longtime member of the Financial Action Task Force, Spain continued to demonstrate leadership in the area of anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance. Spain enacted its current law on Preventing Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism in 2010; the law entered into force immediately. However, implementation of regulations will not be approved until 2012. The regulations will greatly enhance authorities' capacity to counter terrorist financing by placing greater requirements, with stiffer penalties for non-compliance, on financial institutions and other businesses, and by strengthening monitoring and oversight. The government diligently implemented relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and had the legal authority to impose autonomous designations.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Spain is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and worked to advance a number of counterterrorism initiatives through the EU, including work with the G-6 and the United States on cyber-crime. Spain continued its leadership role in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and served as Coordinator of its Implementation and Assessment Group, a working group of technical experts.

Spain has signed numerous bilateral agreements on police and security force cooperation, including on January 31 with Serbia, February 18 with Morocco and Jordan, March 3 with Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 21 with Mexico, and October 24 with Croatia. The Spanish Ministry of Interior organized the "International Seminar on the Fight against Terrorism and Organized Crime" on May 9-12 in the Sahel, with the participation of Spain, France, Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Spain participated in several international meetings focused on countering violent extremism (CVE). Spain's inter-ministerial CVE working group emphasized the prevention of radicalization and sought to counter radical propaganda both online and in other arenas. In addition to promoting international cooperation on these issues, Spanish efforts to counter radicalization were tied closely to the fight against illegal immigration and the integration of existing immigrant communities. This strategy sought the support of civil society and the general public in rejecting violence. In fulfillment of applicable laws, Spanish prisons employed CVE rehabilitation programs designed to achieve the reintegration of inmates into society.

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