Terror Attacks in Spain

According to the TE-SAT (2011) report, Spain has been on the bleeding end of terror attacks in Europe. For instance, in 2010, Spain was among the top two nations in EU with the largest number of terror attacks. Woolslayer (2007) reports that extremist terror attacks in Spain emerged in the 1960 during the reign of Francisco Franco.

Franco’s government outlawed promotion of Basque nationalist leading to the formation of Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA), which was a radical group composed of Basque nationalists. Following the death of Franco in 1975, the Spain constitution of 1979 embraced a democratic approach that allowed for Basque autonomy. However, this new dispensation did not end the terror attacks by Basques. This was attributed to the fact that Basques wanted to depart from Spain and form a sovereign state. Therefore, ETA planned numerous terror attacks targeting officials from the Spanish government.

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Though ETA still exists in Spain, most of their activities have continually decreased momentum. Apart from domestic terrorism that is associated with ETA, Spain has also been a target of international terrorists mostly linked to the extremist Al-Qaeda group. For instance, on March 11, 2004, Madrid commuter train system was hit by three explosives. This tragedy led to the death of 173 people. Conclusive evidence has indicated that these attacks were organized by the renowned Muslim extremist group Al-Qaida (Woolslayer, 2007).

To deal with terror attacks, the Spanish government has put various measures into place. To deal with ETA in the 1980s, the Spanish government introduced Antiterrorism Liberation Groups whose main agenda was to patrol regions in Spain, arrest and assassinate terror suspects. In 1989, the penitentiary policy that sought to isolate terror prisoners was adapted. This was done to reduce group cohesion. Talking about ETA, Spain has convinced other European nations such as France and Belgium to help them combat the activities of ETA by preaching international isolation.

This has helped Spain to reduce the size of ETA, its supporters and both internal and external funding of the group (Woolslayer, 2007). Spain also introduced preventative detention for terror suspects, thus allowing the law enforcers to hold terror suspects up to 3 days. Further, after the11 March attacks, Spain passed two laws: Prevention and freezing law which seeks to cripple terror financing and the Organic law which seeks to control the possession of explosive devices (Woolslayer, 2007).