Cablegate: Spain - 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism

DE RUEHMD #1200/01 3550740
R 210740Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: (A) STATE 122733, (B) STATE 109980

1. (U) As requested in Refs, Post's submission for the "Country
Reports on Terrorism" is in paragraph 2. Embassy POC is POLOFF Hugh
Clifton. Telephone: 34-91-587-2294, email:

2. (U)
During 2009 Spain continued to confront and suffer from both radical
Islamic terrorism and domestic Basque terrorists. Spain maintained
close cooperation with the United States to investigate and
prosecute acts of terrorism and to prevent future attacks, and
worked hard to disrupt terrorist acts that possibly were directed
against U.S. interests.

The Government of Spain and its citizens recognized that their
country remained a principal target of Islamic terrorist groups, who
routinely called for the recapture of the former Muslim-controlled
region in the Iberian Peninsula they still call al-Andalus, for the
"liberation" of Spain's North African enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla,
and for the Spanish military's withdrawal from multilateral forces
in Afghanistan and Lebanon. In October, Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic
Maghreb's (AQIM) decision to name its propaganda unit, "al Andalus",
reinforced the Government of Spain's concern that that Spain remains
a priority target for AQIM. In late November, AQIM kidnapped three
Spanish aid workers in Mauritania as a convoy from their
Barcelona-based non-governmental organization (NGO) traveled through
West Africa to deliver humanitarian assistance.

Spain's geographical location and large immigrant population from
North Africa and South Asia, combined with the ease of travel to
other European countries, made it a strategic crossroads for
international terrorist groups. Spain remained an important
transit, fundraising and logistical base for terrorist organizations
operating in Western Europe. Spain continued to aggressively target
terrorist recruiters and facilitators. The Ministry of Interior
detained 14 suspected Islamist terrorists.

In fulfillment of the Council of Europe's 2008 Agreement on the
Prevention of Terrorism, Spain's Council of Ministers in November
approved legislative reforms in the nation's counterterrorism laws.
These reforms criminalize such offenses as inciting terrorism as
well as recruiting, training, indoctrinating or financing
terrorists. The proposal still requires parliamentary approval to
become a binding law.

Meanwhile, the Spanish judiciary remained active in combating
radical Islamic terrorism. In January 2008, authorities detained
members of an alleged terrorist cell for plotting to attack
Barcelona's transportation system. The National Court in December
convicted all 11 defendants, primarily Pakistanis, for membership in
a terrorist organization, with sentences ranging from 8.5 to 14.5
years. A member of the cell who became the key prosecution witness
testified that he had been a member of al-Qa'ida since 2005 and had
received training in Pakistan. In November, a Spanish judge
indicted seven additional persons for their alleged roles in the
2004 Madrid train bombings.

Supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in
Afghanistan, Spain supplemented its longstanding contingent of more
than 750 troops, raising its troop levels to roughly 1,000.
President Zapatero has voiced support for President Obama's strategy
for increasing ISAF troop levels further and the Defense Minister
has announced Spain's intention to send additional military and
Civil Guard troops in 2010.

On the domestic front, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the
founding of the terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA),
whose aim is to create an independent Basque state. The group
marked its anniversary with a series of high profile and deadly
bombings. On July 29, ETA detonated an explosive-laden, stolen van
outside a Civil Guard barracks in Burgos. The blast injured more
than 60 Civil Guards, spouses, and children. The following day, ETA
murdered two Civil Guards in Mallorca with a car bomb. ETA had
claimed its first victim of the year weeks earlier when it used a
car bomb on June 19 to assassinate a national police officer in the
Basque Region.

2009 was also noteworthy for the change of administration in the
Basque regional government. The Socialist Party, under Patxi
Lopez's regional leadership, assumed power as the first non-Basque
nationalist government to administer the Basque Country since the
restoration of democracy in Spain nearly 30 years ago. Lopez's
administration implemented a more unequivocal counter-terrorism
policy to confront ETA. Meanwhile, Spain was pleased to see that
the European Court of Human Rights in June upheld Spain's 2003 ban
on the political party Batasuna for its ties to ETA.

Building on strong results in 2008, Spain's intensified cooperation
with the French government continued to put considerable pressure on

MADRID 00001200 002 OF 002

ETA. Joint operations with France resulted in, among other
successes, the detention of ETA's suspected military leader in
April, and its alleged political chief, who also reportedly served
as the group's communications chief, in October. Each of these
arrests - as well as numerous others - occurred in France with the
participation of Spanish security forces. As of mid-December,
security services had arrested 122 alleged ETA members or
associates, including 31 in France. Joint operations also resulted
in the seizure throughout September of more than a dozen arms

Spain participated in the Megaports and Container Security
Initiatives, and worked hard to deny terrorists access to Spanish
financial institutions. Spain maintained a robust law enforcement
and intelligence posture against terrorist financing. Spain was a
member of the G8 Counterterrorism Action Group and provided
technical assistance to other countries to help build their
institutions to counter terrorist financing. Spain is a longtime
member of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force and its
efforts to combat money laundering were considered comprehensive and
effective. As a participant in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Spain
continued to comply with requirements in the VWP law related to
information sharing and other law enforcement and counterterrorism

During a visit to Washington in June, Spain's Interior Minister and
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed an Agreement on Preventing
and Combating Serious Crime that allows for the exchange of
fingerprints and other data on known terrorists and criminals while
protecting individual privacy. The Interior Minister also signed a
Letter of Intent with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
to expand bilateral science and technology cooperation in order to
enhance security and combat transnational threats.


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