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Cablegate: Spain: 2003 Annual Terrorism Report

O 111146Z DEC 03



E.O. 12958: N/A

Spain's counterterrorism efforts focused both on combating
ETA terrorism and in taking action against suspected al
Qaeda operatives in Spain. ETA activity dropped
significantly in 2003 due to tougher laws, increased police
and judicial pressure, and effective international
cooperation, particularly with France. Spanish police and
Spain's independent judiciary continued to take action
against al Qaeda operatives in Spain during 2003. In
September 2003, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon indicted Osama
Bin Laden and 34 other al Qaeda members or suspects (ten of
whom are in Spanish custody). In January 2003, Spanish
police arrested 16 North Africans suspected of links to the
al Qaeda network. Judge Ruiz Polanco later released them
for insufficient evidence, although the investigation
remains open. Spain has been a strong proponent of
international counterterrorism cooperation, both within the
EU and as Chairman of the UN Counterterrorism Committee.
Spain passed a new terrorist finance law in 2003.

Following is the 2003 terrorism report submission for Spain.

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1. Actions against Al Qaeda Operatives

Building on arrests made in 2001 and 2002, Spanish police
made additional arrests of Al Qaeda suspects during 2003.

In January, police arrested 16 North African (mostly
Algerian) nationals in Catalunya suspected of having ties
with al Qaeda operatives in the UK and France. In the
course of the arrests, Spanish police seized manuals on
chemical war, chemical products, and fraudulent IDs and
passports. Judge Ruiz Polanco provisionally closed the case
on June 24 after a Spanish lab report on the chemical
evidence proved inconclusive. However, Ruiz Polanco
reopened the case in September after receiving a lab report
from the FBI. The FBI report maintained that substances
confiscated with the suspects, when mixed with other
components, could result in homemade napalm. Out of the
sixteen suspects, the Judge re-interrogated four (Mohamed
Nebbar, Mohamed Taharaoui, Djamel Boudjeltia, and Ali
Kaouka) on September 30, and later re-released them, but
this time on bail. The case remains open.

On March 7, Spanish national police in Valencia arrested
four Spaniards and one Pakistani. They were accused of
belonging to a financial network involved in laundering
money that was then sent to al Qaeda operatives. The
Spanish Ministry of Interior also linked these suspects to a
terrorist attack that took place in April 2002 in Yerba,
Tunisia, in which 19 people were killed. On March 12, 2003
Judge Isabel Moreno ordered two of these suspects (Spaniard
Enrique Cerda and Pakistani Ahmed Ruksar) remanded to prison
pending further investigation of the case. The other three
suspects were released.

On August 6, Algerian national Diaouad Albdelhai was
arrested in Lloret de Mar, Catalunya. Germany had sought
his arrest for association with Abdelrazak Mahdjoub, who was
arrested in Hamburg the week before (Mahdjoub reportedly
confessed he was planning terrorist attacks in Costa del
Sol, Spain). Germany requested Albdelhai's extradition on
September 4; the request is still pending.

On September 5, police arrested Taysir Alony, a Syrian-born
Spanish national and journalist with the Al Yazira TV
network. Judge Garzon accused Alony of being part of an al
Qaeda cell that was arrested (on Garzon's order) in November
2001. The leader of the cell is Syrian-born Spanish
national Eddin Barakat Yarkas. Alony was also accused of
passing funds on behalf of al Qaeda during his travels to
Afghanistan. On September 11, Judge Garzon remanded Alony
to jail without bail. However, in October, another Spanish
judge set Alony free on 6,000 euros bail, citing health

On September 18, Spanish police arrested in Alicante,
Granada and Madrid the following people: Moroccan citizen,
Saddik Merizak, as well as Syrian citizens Hassan Alhusein;
Jamal Hussein Hussein; Waheed Kalami; and Ahmad Koshagi
Kalami. All of them were accused by Judge Garzon of giving
logistical and propaganda support to al Qaeda and of having
ties with Eddin Barakat Yarkas and his al Qaeda cell. They
were sent to prison on September 21, except for Jamal
Hussein who was released on 60,000 euros bail.

2. Blocking of terrorist assets

Spain has cooperated with the U.S. in blocking terrorist
assets. The Spanish Parliament passed new legislation in
May 2003 to improve the blocking of terrorist financing.

The new law permits the blocking of suspected terrorist
accounts by Spanish executive branch action and creates an
inter-ministerial commission on terrorism finance. Prior to
the passage of this law, Spanish authorities had to obtain a
court order before they could freeze accounts. The
Parliament also passed new legislation in July to stiffen
penalties for money laundering, which will also impede
terrorist financing.

In May 2003, the United States included Batasuna, the
political wing of the terrorist organization ETA, on its
terrorist finance list. In June 2003, the EU also included
Batasuna in its lists of terrorist organizations.

Spain supports the creation of a UN list of terrorist
organizations. In September 2003, President Aznar advocated
for a UN list in a speech to the Counterterrorism Committee,
which Spain chairs in 2003-04.

Spain co-chairs the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
Terrorist Finance working group along with the United
States. In this role, Spain has been instrumental in
developing best practices on charities and other areas of
concern. Spain also provides significant counterterrorism
assistance to Latin American countries.

4. Counter-Terrorism Laws

In February 2003, the Spanish Parliament approved a law to
increase security for politicians in the Basque region who
are threatened with ETA assassination. The law increases
funding to provide more bodyguards and other protection for
local politicians. Spanish courts in the Basque region also
enforced laws passed in 2002 that increase prison terms and
provided for damages against those convicted terrorist
related street crimes. The new laws treat ETA-inspired
vandalism as terrorist acts and impose fines on parents for
pro-ETA destruction caused by their minor children. Pro-ETA
vandalism in the Basque region, such as the burning of buses
or cash machines, dropped by over half in 2003 as a result
of these measures.


1. On September 17, Judge Garzon issued a 700-page
provisional indictment against Osama Bin Laden and 34 other
al Qaeda members. The indictment included Imad Eddin
Barakat Yarkas and ten other members (or suspected members)
of his Spain-based al Qaeda cell. The Barakat Yarkas cell
members are all in Spanish custody. The indictment outlined
their support for al Qaeda and alleged links to 9-11

(Garzon's order confirmed that the following persons,
suspected of membership in an al Qaeda cell, would remain in
Spanish custody without bail: Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas;
Mohamed Ghaleb Kalaje Zouadi; Mohamed Needl Acaid; Mohamed
Zaher Asade; Jasem Mahboule; Osama Darra; Luis Jose Galan
(aka Yusuf Galan); Taysir Alony (aka Abu Musab); Said
Chedadi; Najib Chaib Mohamed; and Driss Chebli. Al Jezira
journalist Alony was subsequently released on bail on health
grounds by another judge, but the investigation into his
case remains active.)

2. On March 17, the 16 member Spanish Supreme Court ruled
unanimously to de-legalize Batasuna, Herri Batasuna, and
Euskal Herritarrok, which constituted the political arm of
the ETA terrorist organization. The de-legalization
included seizure of all assets of these groups and denied
them any public subsidy, as had been the case while Batasuna
was a legal political party.

3. As of December, Spanish police had arrested over 120
persons in 2003 for association with or membership in ETA,
and dismantled nine ETA operational terrorist cells. The
Spanish strategy has also emphasized actions against ETA's
support structure. Numbers of arrests of members of ETA's
recruitment and support structures include: 15 people in
February; nine in April; 29 in October; and 12 in November.
In 2003 there were about 500 ETA members in jail in Spain
and over a hundred in France. In early December 2003,
French police arrested top leaders of ETA's military wing
including Gorka Palacios and Idon Fernandez Iradi (aka
Susper), dealing another severe blow to ETA. Fernandez was
reportedly preparing attacks in Spain to coincide with the
2003 Christmas season.

4. In March 2003, Judge Garzon issued an order suspending
the activities of the Reconstructed Communist Party of
Spain, the political arm of the terrorist organization
GRAPO. As of December 2003, and thanks to relentless police
and judicial pressure in coordination with France, GRAPO had
conducted no terrorist acts in Spain in 2002 or 2003.


Under the 2001 bilateral agreement between France and Spain
for temporary delivery of suspected terrorists imprisoned in
France to stand trial in Spain, France has transferred
prisoners under the agreement four times as of December
2003. In addition to these temporary deliveries, France has
extradited to Spain six ETA members and has expelled three

Spain has been a strong proponent within the EU of the
European wide arrest and detention order (the "euro-order"),
which it plans to apply to terrorists and organized crime
once the measure goes into force in the EU in 2004.


Spain has also been a strong proponent within the EU of an
EU-wide extradition agreement with the U.S. However, Spain
supports the EU consensus of opposing extradition to the
U.S. if a prisoner will be subject to the death penalty.
In practice, extradition to the US is possible once Spanish
judicial concerns regarding application of the death penalty
are resolved (Spain would insist on advance agreement that
the death penalty not be applied to persons extradited to
the U.S.).


Spanish government public statements on the War on Terrorism
have been vocal and strongly supportive, not only in the
wake of 9-11 and Afghanistan, but also regarding coalition
military action in Iraq, which was unpopular with the
Spanish public.

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1. Spain took over chairmanship of the UN Counterterrorism

2. Spain co-chairs the Financial Action Task Force terrorist
finance working group.

3. On January 8, Spain and the U.S. signed an agreement
under the Container Security Initiative (CSI) to enhance
anti-terrorist control measures. Implementation of the
program remains pending.

4. On February 9, Spain initiated cooperation with the U.S.
in the Strait of Gibraltar Escort Operation in the
protection of U.S. ships transporting military material to
the Gulf area.

5. Spain and France negotiated in November an agreement by
which their respective police forces will be able to work in
each other's country, investigating cases related to ETA,
Islamic extremist terrorism, counternarcotics, trafficking
in persons crimes, etc. This agreement is a consequence of
the EU 2002 agreement to create "multi-national police
investigation teams." France and Spain are the first two
countries that have negotiated the application of the EU

6. With respect to the Iraq conflict, in August 2003, 1300
Spanish troops deployed in Southern Iraq.

G. and H. None


Spain has suffered from ETA and other terrorist groups for
over 30 years and has a deep commitment to using all legal
means to combat terrorism, in Spain and internationally.
Spain welcomes the increased international cooperation in
combating terrorism that has emerged since 9-11. Spanish
leaders believe the global war on terrorism has translated
into increased police, judicial and international political
pressure on ETA that is taking a heavy toll on ETA's
operational effectiveness. Thanks to this pressure Spanish
leaders believe that ETA is getting closer to being rendered
inoperative as a coordinated terrorist organization.


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