US embassy cable - 03MADRID4409


Identifier: 03MADRID4409
Wikileaks: View 03MADRID4409 at
Origin: Embassy Madrid
Created: 2003-12-11 11:46:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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. 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
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. 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
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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