ETA orders militants to attack Basque railway link
19 November 2007, Madrid - ETA leaders have ordered members of the Basque terrorist group to sabotage the construction of a high-speed rail line linking the Basque Country and Madrid, signaling a shift in the organization's strategy as it desperately attempts to regain prominence following the formal end of a ceasefire in June.
19 November 2007
Madrid - ETA leaders have ordered members of the Basque terrorist group to sabotage the construction of a high-speed rail line linking the Basque Country and Madrid, signaling a shift in the organization's strategy as it desperately attempts to regain prominence following the formal end of a ceasefire in June.
According to documents seized by police, ETA members have been instructed to hinder work on the rail line, currently being built between the Basque Country's three main cities - Victoria, Bilbao and San Sebastián - and which will eventually connect with Madrid.
By damaging heavy machinery, laying traps on roads to destroy vehicles and generally causing havoc, ETA is aiming to force the construction companies to pull out at a potentially massive cost to the Spanish state.
In an effort to build public support for its actions, ETA is claiming that the sabotage is not only justifiable for political reasons but also for environmental ones. It has even coined a word to describe acts of vandalism against the rail line: 'ecotaje', an abbreviation of the Spanish words for "ecological sabotage."
Curiously, the documents given to members do not explain the reasoning behind its ecological arguments in light of the fact that rail is one of the more environmentally friendly ways to travel. Even so, it is not the first time that ETA has sought to portray its terrorist campaigns in a green light.
During the 1970s, it capitalized on widespread opposition to the construction of a nuclear plant near Lemóniz, plans for which were eventually retracted. And, in the 1980s, it attempted to sabotage work on a highway linking Pamplona and San Sebastián, killing five people and delaying completion of the road by several years.
The new instructions to attack the rail line cite both those earlier campaigns as precedents.
Police suspect that young recruits to the organization are receiving training from more expert senior members.
Much of the information in the documents is very detailed, down to what tools members should purchase and even what to say if the contents of their shopping cart are questioned.
Counter-terrorism experts believe ETA currently has around 100 inexperienced members prepared to commit attacks or acts of sabotage, but it is short on leaders, most of whom are now in jail in Spain or France.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ PABLO ORDAZ 2007]
Subject: Spanish news