Overview: Spain experienced its first major terrorist attack since 2004 on August 17-18, 2017, when two vehicular attacks claimed 16 lives, including one U.S. citizen. Spanish authorities arrested 75 terrorist suspects in 2017, including terrorist financiers. Spanish counterterrorism cooperation with the United States was excellent. After a two-year delay, Spain launched implementation of its national plan to counter violent extremism. Spain expanded its contribution to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (Defeat ISIS Coalition), with more than 500 personnel deployed to Iraq in military and police training missions. Spain continued to exercise leadership in regional and global counterterrorism fora, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and the 5+5 Defense Initiative. Central government law enforcement agencies worked to improve information sharing and coordination with the Catalan region's autonomous police force.

On April 8, Basque terrorist group ETA announced its intent to disarm fully. ETA has observed a unilateral ceasefire since 2011, following a decades-long campaign of violence that claimed more than 800 victims.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: On August 17-18, two vehicular attacks in Barcelona and nearby Cambrils left 16 dead, including a U.S. citizen, and more than 100 injured. ISIS subsequently claimed credit for the attacks. On August 21, Catalan police shot and killed the suspected driver, Younes Abouyaaqoub, in the August 17 vehicular attack in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona. In addition to killing 14 in the vehicular attack, Abouyaaqoub killed another person in a carjacking as he fled the scene of the attack. Abouyaaqoub was part of a cell believed to have been radicalized and led by Abdulbaki Es Satty, an imam in the Catalan town of Ripoll. Es Satty had spent extensive time in Spanish prison on drug trafficking and other charges; he was killed along with one other cell member in an August 16 house explosion while attempting to produce explosives for use in the attacks. The police killed five other members of the cell following an August 18 vehicular attack in the Catalan town of Cambrils that killed one Spanish civilian.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Spain's terrorism alert level remained at four (high) on a five-point scale throughout 2017. In the aftermath of the August attacks, Spanish authorities considered raising the level to five, which would have enabled deploying military forces to secure civilian areas, but Spain opted to adopt a series of enhanced level four measures instead. These measures included intensified border controls, increased police presence in heavily trafficked areas, and heightened counterterrorism cooperation with local police. The Spanish criminal code punishes any act of "collaboration with the activities or purposes of a terrorist organization," including glorification of terrorism on social media, self-radicalization on the internet, training remotely, operating without clear affiliation, or traveling in support of non-state terrorist actors.

In 2017, Spanish authorities arrested 75 individuals on terrorism-related charges in 52 separate police operations. According to the Ministry of Interior, 36 Spanish citizens and residents traveled to Syria and Iraq in 2017 to support ISIS and other terrorist organizations as of November.

Spanish authorities have identified 222 Spanish foreign terrorist fighters, including 47 who are believed deceased. On December 1, Spain adopted a new National Security Strategy, which states that "jihadist terrorism is one of the principal problems confronting the international community." The Strategy identified ISIS as the leading terrorist threat but noted terrorist groups' "rapid mutability and adaptation to change and to the strategies pursued against them."

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Spain is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has observer or cooperating status in the following FATF-style regional bodies: the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. Spain maintained funding levels for its financial intelligence unit, the Executive Service for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Monetary Offenses, which is a member of the Egmont Group. Spain is a member of the Defeat ISIS Coalition's Counter ISIS Financing working group. In June, the new European Union (EU) Funds Transfer Regulation entered into effect in Spain. Spanish authorities made multiple arrests on terrorist finance charges, including the June 1 arrest of an alleged ISIS fundraiser on the outskirts of Madrid and the June 23 arrest of a Danish ISIS financier in the North African enclave of Melilla. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Spain began implementation of its national CVE plan, led by the Intelligence Center for Countering Terrorism and Organized Crime. The plan was developed in 2015 but lacked funding and high-level political support for most of the last two years. It seeks to build partnerships at the local level between civil society leaders from vulnerable communities and representatives of law enforcement and other public agencies.

Separately, in October the Ministers of Interior and Justice launched a campaign supported by Google and the Spanish government called #SomosMás (We Are More), highlighting the role of minority youth leaders in countering discrimination and extremism. In the aftermath of the August 17-18 vehicular attacks, a coalition of 150 civic and religious groups organized a large rally in Barcelona to condemn terrorism and declare the solidarity of Spain's Muslim community with the victims.

The Spanish cities of Fuenlabrada and Malaga are both members of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: Spain is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and supports counterterrorism initiatives in the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Spain maintained forces throughout 2017 in EU training missions in Mali and Somalia. Spanish officials participated in meetings of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group on disrupting Hizballah's activities. Spain continues to support the 5+5 Defense Initiative bringing together European (France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain) and North African (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia) countries to build capacity on counterterrorism, maritime and aviation security, and disaster management. In December, Spain co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters.


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