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BASQUE FATHERLAND AND LIBERTY
aka ETA; Askatasuna; Batasuna; Ekin; Euskal Herritarrok; Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna; Herri Batasuna; Jarrai-Haika-Segi; K.A.S.; XAKI
Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) was founded in 1959 with the aim of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles encompassing the Spanish Basque provinces of Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, and Alava; the autonomous region of Navarra; and the southwestern French territories of Labourd, Basse-Navarre, and Soule. ETA is listed as a terrorist organization by Spain and the EU. In 2002, the Spanish Parliament banned the political party Batasuna, ETA’s political wing, charging its members with providing material support to the terrorist group. The European Court of Human Rights in June 2009 upheld the ban on Batasuna. In September 2008, Spanish courts also banned two other Basque independence parties with reported links to Batasuna. In 2010, when Batasuna continued to try to participate in regional politics, splits between parts of ETA became publicly apparent.
Activities: ETA primarily has conducted bombings and assassinations. Targets typically have included Spanish government officials, businessmen, politicians, judicial figures, and security and military forces, but the group has also targeted journalists and tourist areas. The group is responsible for killing 829 civilians and members of the armed forces or police, and injuring thousands since it formally began a campaign of violence in 1968.
ETA has committed numerous attacks in the last four decades. Some of the group’s high profile attacks include the February 2005 ETA car bombing in Madrid at a convention center where Spanish King Juan Carlos and then Mexican President Vicente Fox were scheduled to appear, wounding more than 20 people. In December 2006, ETA exploded a massive car bomb that destroyed much of the covered parking garage at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport. ETA marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2009 with a series of high profile and deadly bombings, including the July attack on a Civil Guard Barracks that injured more than 60 people, including children.
In March 2010, a Spanish judge charged ETA and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia members of terrorist plots, including a plan to assassinate Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Spanish authorities arrested more than 400 ETA members between 2007 and 2010 and arrested an additional 52 in 2011. In 2012, a number of ETA fugitives were arrested. In June, an ETA operative was apprehended in London and two in France. In August, another ETA fugitive, who had been a target of a European arrest warrant since 2001, was arrested in London.
In October 2011, the militarily weakened and politically isolated ETA announced a “definitive cessation” of armed activity. Given that the group has made and broken several past cease-fires, Madrid rejected this announcement and demanded that ETA disarm and disband.
Strength: Estimates put ETA membership, of those who have not been captured by authorities, at fewer than 100. Spanish and French prisons together hold approximately 750 ETA members.
Location/Area of Operation: ETA operates primarily in the Basque autonomous regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, but has attacked Spanish and French interests elsewhere. The group also maintains a low profile presence in Cuba and Venezuela.
Funding and External Aid: ETA is probably experiencing financial shortages given that the group announced publicly in September 2011 that it had ceased collecting “revolutionary taxes” from Basque businesses. This extortion program was a major source of ETA’s income.