Patterns of Global Terrorism 1997 - Spain

Despite numerous Spanish counterterrorism successes and increased international cooperation with France and Latin American countries, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group continued its campaign of murder, bombings, kidnappings, and street violence. ETA killed 13 persons last year, as compared to five during 1996. ETA's primary targets remained members of the Spanish security forces and judicial and prison officials, but the group also stepped up attacks against local politicians belonging to the ruling Popular Party. ETA's kidnapping and murder of a Popular Party town councilor in July provoked widespread international condemnation and anti-ETA demonstrations involving millions of people throughout Spain.

The Spanish Government has energetically and successfully sought extradition from countries in which ETA fugitives reside. Spanish-French cooperation during 1997 led to the arrest in France of more than 140 persons directly or indirectly connected with ETA, including several of the group's key leaders. Some 60 ETA activists went to trial in France during the past year, and Spanish authorities negotiated the extradition to Spain of 23 terrorists. Spain also has sought extraditions from Latin American countries, successfully gaining extradition of ETA fugitives from the Dominican Republic and Mexico during 1997.

The Spanish Government moved for the first time in 1997 to prosecute ETA's legal political wing, the Herri Batasuna (HB) political party, on charges of criminal collaboration with a terrorist organization. The charges stemmed from HB's dissemination during the 1996 national election campaign of a video containing footage of ETA terrorists advocating violence. On 1 December sentences of seven years in prison and fines of about $3,500 were announced for all 23 members of HB's executive committee.

The leftwing terrorist group First of October Antifascist Resistance Group (GRAPO) remained inactive during 1997, even though some of the group's leaders were released from prison.

Spanish authorities moved forcefully against foreign terrorists in their country, breaking up a ring of the Algerian GIA operating in Valencia in April.


This 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.