Terror arrests deal blow to "parallel ETA" organisation
Dismantling of Elurra cell reveals new approach based on autonomous groups.14 January 2008
MADRID - Two antiterrorist operations against ETA have confirmed French authorities' warning over a year ago that the Basque terrorist group had created "a new organisation" that was ready to perpetrate further attacks.
The discovery of an ETA bomb-making facility in Cahors (France) in September and last week's dismantling of a special cell known as Elurra, which is behind the deaths of two people in the December 2006 attack against Barajas airport - and which was planning a new bombing in Madrid - shows that ETA had rebuilt its human and material capacity during the nine-month ceasefire from March to December of that year.
The double antiterrorist sweep is a heavy blow for ETA, which was gearing up for action ahead of Spain's 9 March general elections. But despite the arrests, the terrorist group will still try to carry out new attacks before that date, the Interior Ministry warned Sunday.
In order to prevent more attacks, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in Paris earlier this month to create a permanent antiterrorist team for the "persecution and prevention" of ETA's terrorism. It was the French antiterrorist services who alerted Spain in December 2006, weeks ahead of the Barajas bombing, that ETA had a "new organisation" ready for action under the leadership of Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, better known as Txeroki. The ultra-secret group functioned as a sort of parallel ETA where members did everything themselves, from logistics to training, bomb making and kidnapping, and the Elurra cell was its centrepiece.
"The Elurra cell was an uncut diamond for the group," says an antiterrorist expert, who underlined that its members had no police files despite each having an average of six years' experience in ETA operations. "It is a real parallel ETA where they do everything, but the problem is that when they get caught in operations like Cahors and this last one, their entire structure falls from top to bottom."
[Copyright EL PAÍS / AITOR GUENAGA 2008]
Subject: Spanish news