Overview: Spain was an active partner with the United States in efforts to track and disrupt transnational terrorism. Spain deepened its cooperation with Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania to combat and contain the threat posed by al-Qa'ida (AQ), its affiliates, and like-minded groups. The domestic terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) has not launched any attacks since it announced a "definitive cessation of armed activity" in October 2011, although the group had not formally disbanded or given up its weapons arsenal by the end of 2014.

Spain has been an active member and an outspoken supporter of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since its inception. Spain is in the process of deploying a 300-strong military training mission to Iraq and will stand up and lead the Besmayah training center south of Baghdad.

Spain is actively working to improve its legal framework to more effectively counter the movement of foreign terrorist fighters from Spain to conflict zones, better pursue suspected terrorists without clear affiliation to a known criminal organization, and curtail terrorist preparatory activities online. In terms of terrorist prosecution, Spain already boasts a mature legal framework as a result of its long fight against ETA.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Spanish Criminal Code specifically punishes any act of collaboration with the activities or purposes of a terrorist organization. Spain's counterterrorism capabilities, coordinated by the national Center for Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Intelligence (CITCO), have proven effective. The National Police and Civil Guard share responsibility for counterterrorism and cooperate well with the United States, with strong information sharing and joint threat assessments. On December 5, 2013, Spain approved a national cyber security strategy to safeguard its critical information systems, and created the Cyber Defense Committee to coordinate its cyber-security across the various government departments.

Spain continued to focus on improved security and the detection of false documents at its borders. Spain participated in the U.S. Immigration Advisory Program, which maintains staff at Madrid-Barajas International Airport. The program allows for coordination between Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, airline security personnel, and police regarding high-risk passengers traveling to the United States. Spain finished implementation of an automated system to read EU passports with biometric data and explosive trace detection equipment was also deployed at Spain's five largest airports at passenger checkpoints. Spain continued to use a network of radar stations, known as the Integrated External Surveillance System, along its maritime borders. In September 2012, the Civil Guard began integrating Europol information in its fight against terrorism and organized crime. Previously, only the Spanish National Police had access to the Europol data.

The Spanish and Moroccan National Police participated in five joint operations against networks of foreign terrorist fighter recruiters and volunteers in March, June, August, September, and December. The raids led to 47 arrests, primarily in Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa, but also included apprehension of suspects in Barcelona and Madrid. Spanish and French law enforcement agencies and intelligence services carried out a joint operation in July that led to the arrest of two French terrorists in Melilla.

A number of ETA members were arrested in 2014, both in Spain and abroad. Juan Jesus Narvaez Goñi and Itziar Alberdi Uranga were arrested in Mexico in February. Maria Jesus Elorza Zubizarreta was arrested as she disembarked form a flight from Venezuela to Madrid in June. Tomas Elorriaga Kunze was arrested in a joint operation by German and Spanish police in November.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Spain is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units. Spain was reviewed under the new round of FATF evaluations and found to have "a strong system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, with up-to-date laws and regulations and sound institutions for combating these threats." The evaluation also recommended improvements "such as the implementation of targeted financial sanctions to allow the freezing of terrorism-related assets." For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Since 2004, Spain has been part of the informal working group on jihadism known as the 5 + 5. The group brings together defense ministers or their designees from five European countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Malta) and five Maghreb countries (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). Its mission is to exchange information and discuss the operational implications of the threat from violent Islamist extremists in the European theater, including that posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters. Four of the group's members – Spain, Morocco, Algeria, and Portugal – held Seaborder 2014, a joint maritime exercise, in September. The full group met in December in Granada and expanded its mission to include cyber-terrorism/cyber-recruiting.

Spain's participation in the G-4 with Portugal, France, and Morocco also has an operational objective. The four countries freely exchange tactics and intelligence on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and organized crime/illegal immigration. Spain continued its work with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and invited France and Morocco to participate in two nuclear attack simulations, one held in Spain and one in Portugal.

Spain cites the lingering effects of its economic crisis as an impediment to further regional and international counterterrorism cooperation. All efforts are made to not reduce operational capacity, according to the Ministry of the Interior, but resource constraints reduce Spain's ability to take part in international training exercises. Spain believes the EU should supplement the country in terms of counterterrorism and border issues especially given the uniqueness of Spain's North African enclaves forming the southern border of the EU.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Spain is working toward final approval of a new national strategy for countering radicalization to violence that will establish a national group managed by the National Counterterrorism Coordination Center that liaises with local, multi-sectorial CVE groups. Spain is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and participated in the May 14-15 First Expert Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Marrakech, and the Second Expert Meeting in Abu Dhabi on June 16-17. In Abu Dhabi, Spain and the United States together presented case studies on strengthening community resilience against radicalization and the related foreign terrorist fighters threats. The Spanish have also established a new mechanism to channel financial contributions from foreign countries to support Muslim communities in Spain, and Spain's Prison System architecture has been modified to prevent radicalization to violence.


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