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Cablegate: Spain: 2004 Annual Terrorism Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 MADRID 004774

SIPDIS

S/CT FOR JOHN KINCANNON AND KIERSTEN MCCUTCHAN
DEPARTMENT PASS TO TTIC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: 2004 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

REF: A) STATE 245841 B) STATE 259427

1. Per Ref A instructions, the following is the 2004
terrorism report submission for Spain.

2. Spain is a strong ally in the war on terrorism,
authorizing the use of military bases to support Operation
Enduring Freedom and sending troops to Afghanistan to provide
added security during that country,s national elections.
Spain suffered a massive terrorist attack in March, when
Islamic extremists detonated explosives on commuter trains in
Madrid killing 190 and wounding hundreds of others. Spain
scored significant successes in its decades-long effort to
eliminate the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist
group, in part through increased police cooperation with
France.

On the morning of March 11, terrorists detonated ten bombs on
commuter trains in Madrid, including five near Atocha, the
city,s biggest train station, killing 190 and wounding
hundreds more. After initially suspecting ETA involvement,
police quickly discovered that Islamic extremists associated
with the "Moroccan Islamic Combat Group" (GICM) and Algerian
terrorist organizations were the actual perpetrators of the
attacks. On April 2, authorities discovered an explosive
device under the high-speed railway connecting Madrid and
Seville. The bomb, which was of a material similar to that
used in the commuter train bombings, failed to detonate for
unexplained reasons. On April 3, seven suspects sought by
the police in connection with the March 11 attacks detonated
explosives in an apartment in a Madrid suburb in order to
avoid arrest by the police. All seven suspects and one
police officer were killed in the explosion.
Authorities are holding 19 suspects in connection with the
March 11 bombings, pending trial on charges of murder and/or
belonging to a terrorist organization. In November, a
Spanish judge issued the first sentence in the case,
sentencing a 16-year-old male to six years in a juvenile
prison facility and five years probation for helping the
conspirators obtain the explosives. Spanish police are
investigating a further 20 individuals for possible links to
the bombing perpetrators.

3. //A. GOS SUPPORT FOR THE GLOBAL COALITION AGAINST
TERRORISM//

Spain has continued to authorize the use of its military
bases at Rota and Moron in support of military operations in
Afghanistan. Spain provided military support to Operation
Enduring Freedom and ISAF, and supported the reconstruction
of Afghanistan with humanitarian and developmental
assistance. Spain doubled its military contingent in
Afghanistan from 500 to over 1,000 to provide added
protection during national elections. On December 17,
Attorney General Ashcroft visited Spain to sign the bilateral
instruments to the U.S.-EU Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and
Extradition Agreement, deepening bilateral judicial
cooperation. Attorney General Ashcroft met with Spain,s
Minister of Justice and Minister of the Interior to discuss
increased cooperation on terrorism investigations. During
the year, the FBI and the Department of Justice worked with
the Spanish National Court to assist in investigations and
prosecutions of Al-Qaida suspects.

Spain has requested talks with the U.S. on the possible
formation of a joint counterterrorism investigative unit,
similar to a unit Spain has developed with France. U.S.
agencies, including the Department of State, are reviewing
the proposal.

//B. COUNTERTERRORISM ACTIONS//

Spanish authorities continued their strong cooperation with
the United States on counterterrorism, primarily by sharing
law enforcement information on suspected terrorist
organizations and by supporting efforts to rebuild
Afghanistan. Since the September 11 attacks, Spain has
arrested over 100 persons suspected of links to Al-Qaida.

-- In May, a Spanish judge ordered the detention of three
Algerian nationals and one Spanish national for their ties to
an al-Qaida cell in Hamburg, Germany. The four detainees
were believed to be planning attacks against commuters in the
Paris metro system similar to the March 11 Madrid bombings.

-- In September, A Spanish judge filed additional charges
against March 11 bombing suspect Jamal Zougam for having
collaborated with jailed Al-Qaida financier and cell leader
Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas.

//C. LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS//

Law enforcement officials moved aggressively in the wake of
the March 11 bombings, arresting over 50 suspects, holding 19
for trial, and continuing investigations of a further 20
suspects. Spain successfully requested the temporary
transfer from Italy of alleged March 11 organizer Rabei Osman
El Sayed to be interrogated regarding his role in the
attacks. Spain and France launched a joint counterterrorism
investigative team focused on ETA and Islamic terrorist
groups, augmenting an earlier agreement that allowed police
to work on counterterrorism investigations in each other,s
countries. This increased cooperation helped France and
Spain carry out a major series of arrests of ETA organizers
in October, including the capture of ETA leaders Mikel Antza
and Soledad Iparragirre in France.

During the year, Spain also signed or added to bilateral
counterterrorism agreements with the UK, Sweden, Portugal,
and Austria.

On May 10, Spain and Morocco agreed to establish a mechanism
to share information on suspected terrorists in both
countries. In September Spain and Morocco formed a judicial
cooperation group to advise their governments on how to
improve cooperation on terrorism-related crimes.

On December 17, Spanish police arrested Moroccan national
Hassan El Haski and three other members of the Moroccan
Islamic Combat Group in the Canary Islands on charges of
participating in the March 11 train bombings and membership
in a terrorist group. The four suspected terrorists had fled
Belgium and France and gone to Spain to avoid arrest.

//D. JUDICIAL RESPONSE//

Spanish authorities have reacted vigorously to impede and
disrupt suspected terrorist activities in areas under their
jurisdiction and to cooperate with other countries in
terrorism investigations. In 2003, Spanish authorities
provided significant information in response to U.S. requests
for information concerning the activities of Mohamed Atta in
Spain prior to the September 11 attacks. On December 17,
Attorney General Ashcroft visited Spain to sign the bilateral
protocols to the U.S.-EU Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and
Extradition Agreement, instruments that will improve judicial
cooperation, including on terrorism cases.

In addition to the arrests carried out following the March 11
attacks, a Spanish judge ordered the arrest of more than 35
suspected extremists charged with plotting bomb attacks
against Spain,s High Court, the headquarters of the
opposition Popular Party (PP), Madrid,s largest soccer
stadium, an office building, and other landmarks. Several of
the suspects arrested in this sweep were reportedly common
criminals recruited in prison to perform suicide attacks.
Spain requested the extradition from Switzerland of Mohamed
Achraf, the alleged ringleader of this terrorist conspiracy.
Spain provided information to Swiss authorities that allowed
them to elevate the charges against Achraf, who was being
held on immigration violations.

In 2003, Spain requested the transfer of Hamed Abdelrahman
Ahmed from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Naval Base, where he
had been held as an enemy combatant following his capture
with Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Ahmed was transferred to
Spain on February 13 and jailed on charges of maintaining
links to Al-Qaida. In July, Judge Baltasar Garzon released
Ahmed on bail pending further investigation. Spain is
seeking the transfer of an additional three enemy combatants
being held in Guantanamo.

Spain successfully sought the temporary transfer from Italy
of Rabei Osman El Sayed, allegedly among the key organizers
of the March 11 attacks, on murder and terrorism charges. El
Sayed was transferred to Spanish custody for six months
beginning on December 7.

-- Impediments to Extradition. Spain supports the EU
consensus opposing extradition to the U.S. if the prisoner
will be subject to the death penalty. A U.S. request for
extradition of terrorist suspects to military tribunals would
also pose problems for the Spanish judiciary. In practice,
extradition to the U.S. is possible once Spanish concerns
regarding the application of the death penalty are resolved
by prior agreement with U.S. authorities.

//E. LAW ENFORCEMENT CAPABILITIES//

Law enforcement agencies have the authority to intercept
wire, oral, and electronic communications, when authorized to
do so by an investigating magistrate. Law enforcement
officials may initiate terrorist investigations based on
intelligence information. Intercepted information collected
via authorized methods may be used in court, but since court
testimony is available to the public, the authorities are
reluctant to release such information for fear of
compromising sources and methods. Spanish police have good
capability for collecting forensic data, such as photographs
and fingerprints.

//F. INVESTIGATIONS OF TERRORIST INCIDENTS//

Spain is a leading proponent within the EU of increased
cooperation on terrorism investigations. Spanish judicial
and police officials work closely with U.S. authorities in
cases of possible bilateral interest. In May, Spain signed
an agreement with Morocco to increase cooperation on border
security in the Straits of Gibraltar, in part to reinforce
bilateral counterterrorism efforts. Spain worked closely
with the U.S. to meet new passport security requirements for
its nationals.

//G. MAJOR COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS//

Within the EU, Spain remains a strong proponent of
international cooperation against terrorism. In April, Spain
joined other EU members in updating and reaffirming the EU
list of terrorist organizations and terrorist suspects, which
includes ETA and ETA-affiliated political organizations, as
well as 19 ETA members currently being sought by Spanish
authorities.

The government maintains several websites dealing with
terrorism. Government sites include:

-- Ministry of the Interior: www.mir.es/oris/index.htm

-- Civil Guard: www.guardiacivil.org/terrorismo/index.jsp

-- National Police: www.mir.es/policia/linea/ter prin.htm

//I. EFFORTS TO COMBAT EXTREMIST IDEOLOGY//

After more than 30 years of fighting against ETA terrorism,
both the government and civil society remain focused on
political violence in the Basque Region. The March 11
attacks came as a shock to Spanish society since most
observers believed that there was very little tension or
extremist organization within Spain,s growing Muslim
immigrant community. Even after the March 11 attacks,
anti-violence campaigns remain focused on ETA.

Civil society efforts to fight violence in the Basque Region
are extremely well developed and include organizations such
as "Gesto Por la Paz8 (Gesture for Peace ) www.gesto.org)
and the 'Asociacion de Victimas del Terrorismo" (Association
of Victims of Terrorism). The victims of the March 11
attacks borrowed from the experience of ETA victims and have
formed their own organization, whose leaders testified before
the Parliamentary commission investigating the train
bombings. The government is supportive of such citizen
efforts, encouraging their participation in public events and
placing links to their organizations on government websites.

//J. WHERE GOVERNMENT HAS DEPLOYED MILITARY FORCES//

Spain deployed over 1,000 troops in Afghanistan during 2004
to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF and to
provide additional security during Afghanistan,s national
elections. In 2003, Spain deployed 1,300 troops to southern
Iraq as part of the Coalition Forces, but the ruling
Socialist Government withdrew those forces following its
electoral victory in March.

//K. MAJOR CHANGES IN STANCE TOWARDS TERRORISM//

As a long-time victim of ETA violence and a recent victim of
a massive Islamic terrorist attack, Spain places combating
terrorism as one of its highest priorities, both in domestic
affairs and in foreign relations. There were massive
demonstrations against terrorism following the March 11 train
bombings, similar to demonstrations following some
high-profile ETA terrorist attacks in recent years. Spain is
a proponent of vigorous international judicial cooperation
against terrorism, a position that enjoys strong public
support. There is significantly less public support for
military action against terrorism, though the government has
underscored its commitment to support operations in
Afghanistan.

//L. PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARDS TERRORISM

See K
//M. SUPPORT FOR TERRORIST GROUPS//

Spain does not harbor or support any terrorist organizations.

//N. PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM//

Spain has not supported any of the state sponsors of
terrorism on a terrorism-related issue.

//O. STATUS OF TERRORIST ACTIVITY

Several terrorist organizations are active in Spain,
including Al-Qaida, the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group (GICM),
and ETA. The Government has virtually eliminated the
domestic terrorist organization First of October Anti-Fascist
Resistance Group (GRAPO).

Spain enforces the EU ban on 36 domestic and international
terrorist organizations. Spain continues to maintain a "Law
of Political Parties," which established a judicial process
to de-legalize political parties that provide concrete
support for terrorist groups. The main organization affected
by this law is the ETA-affiliated group Batasuna, which was
ordered to disband and barred from the political process.

//P. AREAS WHERE TERRORISTS ARE FREE TO OPERATE//

The Spanish Government maintains effective state control
throughout its territory.

//Q. MAJOR CT DEVELOPMENTS//

On the morning of March 11, terrorists detonated ten bombs on
commuter trains in Madrid, including five near Atocha, the
city,s biggest train station, killing 190 and wounding
hundreds more. After initially suspecting ETA involvement,
police quickly discovered that Islamic extremists associated
with the "Moroccan Islamic Combat Group" (GICM) and Algerian
terrorist organizations were the actual perpetrators of the
attacks. On April 2, authorities discovered an explosive
device under the high-speed railway connecting Madrid and
Seville. The bomb, which was of a material similar to that
used in the commuter train bombings, failed to detonate for
unexplained reasons. On April 3, seven suspects sought by
the police in connection with the March 11 attacks detonated
explosives in an apartment in a Madrid suburb in order to
avoid arrest by the police. All seven suspects and one
police officer were killed in the explosion.
Authorities are holding 19 suspects in connection with the
March 11 bombings, pending trial on charges of murder and/or
belonging to a terrorist organization. In November, a
Spanish judge issued the first sentence in the case,
sentencing a 16-year-old male to six years in a juvenile
prison facility and five years probation for helping the
conspirators obtain the explosives. Spanish police are
investigating a further 20 individuals for possible links to
the bombing perpetrators.

In addition to investigating the March 11 bombings, Spanish
police acted against other international terrorist
organizations operating in Spain, including:

-- The "NOVA I" and "NOVA II" police operations in November
to disrupt efforts by Islamic extremists to bomb Spain,s
High Court, the headquarters of the opposition Popular Party,
Madrid,s largest soccer stadium, a major office building,
and other landmarks. Over 35 suspects were arrested and the
investigation remained open as of the end of the year.
Several of the suspects arrested in this sweep were
reportedly common criminals recruited in prison to perform
suicide attacks. Spain requested the extradition from
Switzerland of Mohamed Achraf, the alleged ringleader of this
terrorist conspiracy. Spain provided information to Swiss
authorities that allowed them to elevate the charges against
Achraf, who was being held on immigration violations.

-- In May, a Spanish judge ordered the detention of three
Algerian nationals and one Spanish national for their ties to
an al-Qaida cell in Hamburg, Germany. The four detainees
were believed to be planning attacks against commuters in the
Paris metro system similar to the March 11 Madrid bombings.

-- Police in Barcelona arrested ten Pakistani nationals
suspected of providing logistical and financial support to
Islamic extremist groups outside of Spain, including members
of Al-Qaida and the killers of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.

-- In November, a judge ordered the detention of an
Al-Jazeera television network journalist with alleged ties to
the Spain-based Al-Qaida network of Imad Eddin Barakat
Yarkas. The journalist had been released on bail in 2003 for
health reasons.

-- In December, police arrested three Algerian nationals,
Abdelkader Lebik, Ibdallah Ibn Moutalib Kaddouri, and Brahim
Amman, for involvement with the Catalan-based "Protectors of
the Salafist Current," a radical Islamic cell largely
dismantled in 2003.

Separately, ETA continued its bombing campaign, even as the
police scored significant successes against the organization
that included the capture of 76 ETA members during the year.
ETA-related developments included:

-- In February, Spanish police arrested two ETA members
driving a van carrying 500 kilograms of explosives, allegedly
intended for attacks in Madrid.

-- Spain,s assistance to French authorities in an
investigation that led to the October 3 arrest of ETA leaders
Mikel Antza and Soledad Iparragirre. Antza was the top ETA
organizer at the time of his arrest and Iparragirre was
sought in connection with 14 murders and was believed to be
leading ETA,s extortion operations.

-- ETA carried out a series of bombings of tourist sites
during the summer tourist season. The bombings did not
result in any significant injuries.

-- ETA detonated 12 bombs on December 3 and 6 in Madrid and
eight other cities, resulting in minor injuries to about a
dozen people. Most observers interpreted the December
bombings as ETA,s response to police successes during the
year that had decimated the organization,s logistical arm.


4. Embassy point of contact for this report and for other
terrorism-related issues is political officer Ricardo Zuniga
(zunigarf@state.gov, 34-91-587-2386).
MANZANARES

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