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ETA linked with Islamicist terrorists, say 42pc

9 August 2004

MADRID – More than half of Spaniards believe there are connections between Basque terrorist group ETA and international terrorists, and 42 percent think that those links include Islamicist groups.

The findings of the new poll, the results of which were announced on Monday by the Centre for Sociological Investigations (CIS), came just two days after two small ETA bomb blasts in northern Spain.

Francisco Llera, professor of political sciences at the Basque Country University, who presented the poll, said the little damage caused by the latest bombs demonstrated the “operative difficulties” faced by ETA.

The poll showed a strong belief in Islamicist-ETA links among supporters of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) party.

The PP was ousted from government in the 14 March general elections, just three days after the train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid.

Initially, the outgoing government pinned the blame for the bombings on ETA, which has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Llera said that 67.7 percent of PP supporters believe ETA has links with international terrorism, a theory also backed by more than 54 percent of Socialist (PSOE) voters.

Only 24 percent of people questioned rejected the idea that there are any links with international terrorism.

This view was most widely held among supporters of the Communist-led left wing alliance Izquierda Unida (United Left) – 43 percent, and 27 percent of Socialists.

Llera, who this week is conducting a course on terrorism at  Menéndez Pelayo International University near Santander, said Spaniards were “not so clear” about relations between ETA and Islamicist terrorism organisations.

Even so, as many as 42 percent believe there are such contacts – a figure that rises to almost 58 percent among PP voters.

The number of those who reject the idea of ETA-Islamicist links is 32 percent, again led by IU members at 50 percent and PSOE 38.6 percent.

The poll also shows that more than 26 percent of Spaniards believe the PP’s support for the Iraq war as the principal reason for the arrival of Islamicist terrorism in Spain.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news