MINSK STATE LINGUISTIC UNIVERSITY
“Terrorism in Europe”
Introduction. General overview
1. Terrorism in Spain. ETA
1.5 Political Issues
1.7 Terrorism in Northern Ireland
1.8 Terrorism in Greece. November 17
Terrorism in Europe. General overview
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent alerts,
violence, and threats worldwide, the war on terror has been at the
forefront of international affairs. In 2001, Europe expressed its
solidarity with the United States in the initiation of an international
effort to curb the threat of terrorism throughout the world.
While in this work I have primary tried to focus on the more well-known
and active groups, namely the IRA, the ETA, and 17 November, with a
discussion of Islamic groups within Europe, these are by no means the
only terrorist organizations currently operation within Europe. In
reality, no region of Europe has been able to escape the direct effects
of terrorism over the past 50 years. For instance, though the ETA is the
most famous of the Spanish terrorist organization, the First of October
Antifascist Resistance Group (GRAPO) is a left-wing, anarchist,
terrorist organization that has been operating in Spain for the past
three decades. It came into the international spotlight in 1975, when
four Spanish policemen were killed in retaliation for the execution of
five GRAPO members. GRAPO was last active in November 2000, when they
exploded a series of bombs in Vigo, Seville and Valencia.
In Italy, the Brigate Rosse, or Red Brigade, has been active sine the
1960s. This extreme left, Marxist-Leninist group aims at separating
Italy from the Western alliance, by targeting government symbols all
over Italy. The peak of activity for this group occurred in the 1970’s
and 1980’s, in a series of bombings and attacks that terrorized the
country, though the group has been in decline over the past decade. On
12 December 1969, an Italian bank was blown up, killing 16 people; 106
more casualties followed the next year when an Italian train was
derailed by the anarchist group. However, the most notorious incident
took place in 1978, when former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was
kidnapped, after which point he was brutally murdered. In December of
1983 that year, the Red Brigade took US Army Brigadier General James
Dozier, but this time, a successful rescue operation prevented a repeat
of the Moro incident. Other groups were active in Italy at the same
time. In 1973, Italian neo-fascists detonated two bombs that killed 20
people, injuring many more. Then, on 1 August 1980, 385 casualties
resulted from an explosion in Bologna, linked to right-wing terrorists
in the nation. Later on, Pope John Paul II suffered an unsuccessful
assassination attempt in Rome in 1981, an action executed by the Grey
Wolves, a Turkish terrorist group that was subsequently linked to Middle
East terrorist organizations and Soviet intelligence. In October 1983,
Italian right-wingers claimed 130 casualties by exploding another train
bomb. And, in 1988, five members of the US Navy were killed by a
Japanese Red Army attack in Naples.
France too has been exposed to a variety of threats. The Organisation
Armee Secrete, or Secret Army Organisation (OAS), comprised of French
nationals, army personnel, and foreign legion members was a group
dedicated to keeping Algeria as a French colony. On 9 September 1961,
the group attempted to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle in
France. The attack launched by that group in January 1962 at the foreign
ministry was more successful, claiming 14 casualties; many more joined
that number in 12 further attacks between 1962 and 1965. Another
organization, Action Directe, a Marxist-Leninist group affiliated with
the International Revolutionary Movement Group (GARI), founded in the
1970’s and devoted to the destruction of the existing government,
attacked a Parisian restaurant in 1982, killing six civilians in the
process. In January 1985, the head of French international arms sales
was killed in Paris by the Red Army Faction of the same group, a
splinter force with links to the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Then, in 1986,
Action Directe struck again in its most famous action, killing the
president of Renault in Paris.
In 1983, 63 casualties were claimed after an Armenian terrorist group
planted a bomb at the Orly airport. 1986 initiated a 10-month long
series of attacks all over France that were linked to the Armenian
terrorists, in conjunction with Lebanese groups. Most recently, in 2000,
a bomb planted in a French McDonald’s by the Breton Revolutionary Army
(ARB), a pro-independence group in Brittany, killed one woman.
Germany has also had to face a wide-ranging terrorist threat, starting
with the 1970 formation of the notorious Baader-Meinhof Gang. That year
the German leftist Ulrike Meinhof organized Andreas Baader’s escape from
a Berlin prison; the two then formed the terrorist gang that would
launch a series of attacks throughout Germany in the next 30 years.
Within a year, they would be knows as the Red Army Faction (RAF), a
strategic renaming aimed at creating a sense of a much larger
organization, as opposed to a small German splinter group. In May and
June 1972, two separate attacks were carried out on US Army headquarters
in Frankfurt and Heidelberg, claiming 17 casualties. Then, on 5
September 1975, the Baader-Meinhof Gang kidnapped Hans Martin Schleyer,
a German businessman, subsequently killing him. An almost-successful
assassination attempt on NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Haig was
carried out in 1979. Though the organization has now ceased to exist,
the precedent for terrorism in Germany has been set.
1. Terrorism in Spain. ETA
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or ETA, is a Basque paramilitary group that seeks
to create an independent socialist state for the Basque people, separate
from Spain and France, the countries in which Basque-populated areas
currently lie. ETA is considered by Spain, France, the European Union
and the United States to be a terrorist organization . The name Euskadi
Ta Askatasuna is in the Basque language, and translates as “Basque
Country and Liberty”. ETA’s motto is Bietan jarrai (“Keep up on both”).
This refers to the two figures in the ETA symbol, the snake (symbolising
secrecy and astuteness) wrapped around an axe (representing strength).
The organization was founded in 1959 and evolved rapidly from a group
advocating traditional cultural ways to an armed resistance movement.
ETA forms part of what is known as the Basque National Liberation
Movement (Movimiento de Liberaciуn Nacional Vasco, MLNV in Spanish).
This comprises several distinct organizations promoting a type of left
Basque nationalism often referred to by the Basque-language term ezker
abertzale or by the mixed Spanish and Basque izquierda abertzale. These
include ETA, Batasuna, Euskal Herritarrok, Herri Batasuna, and the
associated youth group Haika (formed by Jarrai and Gazteriak, and Segi),
the union LAB, Gestoras pro Amnistнa and others.
ETA is believed to be financed principally by a so-called “revolutionary
tax”, paid by many businesses in the Basque Country and in the rest of
Spain and enforced by the threat of assassination. They also kidnap
people for ransom and have occasionally burgled or robbed storehouses of
explosives. They have often maintained large caches of explosives, often
in France rather than within the borders of Spain.
As of the end of 2004, ETA had killed 817 people, of which 339 were
civilians, including children.
During the Franco era, ETA had considerable public support (even beyond
the Basque populace), but Spain’s transition to democracy and ETA’s
progressive radicalization have resulted in a steady loss of support,
which became especially apparent at the time of their 1997 kidnapping
and assassination of Miguel Бngel Blanco. Their loss of sympathizers has
been reflected in an erosion of support for the political parties
identified with the MLNV.
In recent years, ETA supporters have become a minority in the Basque
region. A Euskobarуmetro poll (conducted by the Universidad del Paнs
Vasco) in the Basque Country in May 2004, found that a significant
number of Basques supported some or all of ETA’s goals (33% favored
Basque independence, 31% federalism, 32% autonomy, 2% centralism.
However, few supported their violent methods (87% agreed that “today in
Euskadi it is possible to defend all political aspirations and
objectives without the necessity of resorting to violence”)
The poll did not cover Navarre or the Basque areas of France, where
Basque nationalism is weaker.
ETA’s focus has been on two demands:
That an independent socialist government be created in Basque-inhabited
areas of Spain and France (Euskal Herria). (In Spain, these are known
collectively as the Basque Country and include both the Comunidad
Autуnoma Vasca (“Autonomous Basque Community”) — consisting of the
provinces of Vizcaya (Bizkaia), Guipъzcoa (Gipuzkoa), Бlava (Araba) —
and province of Navarre (Nafarroa), which, alone, constitutes the
Comunidad Foral de Navarra (Navarese Community under fueros). The
Basque-inhabited areas in France are known collectively as the French
Basque Country and include Lower Navarre, Labourd (Lapurdi) and Soule
(Zuberoa), all located in southwestern France in the dйpartement of
That imprisoned ETA members currently awaiting trial or serving prison
sentences in Spain be released.
During the 1980s, the goals of the organisation started to shift. Four
decades after the creation of ETA, the idea of creating a Socialist
state in the Basque Country had begun to seem utopian and impractical,
and ETA moved to a more pragmatic stance. This was reflected in the 1995
manifesto “Democratic Alternative”, which offered the cessation of all
armed ETA activity if the Spanish-government would recognize the Basque
people as having sovereignty over Basque territory and the right to
self-determination. Self-determination would be achieved through a
referendum on whether to remain a part of Spain.
The organization has adopted other tactical causes such as fighting
-Alleged drug traffickers as corruptors of Basque youth and police
-The nuclear power plant project at Lemoiz
-The Leizaran highway
ETA is organized into distinct talde (“groups”), whose objective is to
conduct terrorist operations in a specific geographic zone;
collectively, they are coordinated by the cъpula militar (“military
cupola”). In addition, they maintain safe houses and zulo (caches of
arms or explosives; the Basque word zulo literally means “hole.”
Among its members, ETA distinguishes between legalak, those members who
do not have police files, liberados, exiled to France, and quemados,
freed after having been imprisoned.
The internal organ of ETA is Zutik (“Standing”).
ETA’s tactics of intimidation include:
-Assassination and murder, especially by car bombs or a gunshot to the
nape of the neck.
-Anonymous threats, often delivered in the Basque Country by placards or
graffiti, and which have forced many people into hiding; an example was
the harassment of Juan Marнa Atutxa, one-time head of the department of
justice for the Basque Country.
-The so-called “revolutionary tax.”
-Kidnapping (often as a punishment for failing to pay the “revolutionary
ETA operates mainly in Spain, particularly in the Basque Country,
Navarre, and (to a lesser degree) Madrid, Barcelona, and the tourist
areas of the Mediterranean coast of Spain. ETA has generally focused on
so-called “military targets” (in which definition it has included police
and politicians), but in recent years it has also sometimes targeted
ETA victims have included, among others:
-Luis Carrero Blanco, president of the government under Franco (1973)
-Members of the army and the security forces of the Spanish state,
including Guardia Civil, Policнa Nacional, and police of the autonomous
regions, such as the Ertzaintza (Basque police) or mossos d’esquadra
(the police force of Catalonia).
-Parlamentarians, members of city councils, sympathizers and partisans
of other parties, including the socialist PSOE (such as Fernando Buesa,
killed February 22, 2000 in Vitoria and Ernest Lluch shot through the
neck November 21, 2000 in Barcelona), the conservative Partido Popular
(such as Miguel Бngel Blanco and Gregorio Ordусez) or even conservative
Basque nationalists such as (Navarrese fuerista Tomбs Caballero,
assassinated in 1998).
-Judges and lawyers
-Businessmen, such as Javier Ybarra.
-Functionaries of the prison and judicial systems.
-Philosophers and intellectuals.
-University professors, such as Francisco Tomбs y Valiente, killed in
-Journalists, such as Josй Luis Lуpez de la Calle, killed in May 2000.
-Members of certain religious and social groups.
-Foreign tourists in Spain.
Before bombings, ETA members often make a telephone call so that people
can be evacuated, although these calls have sometimes given incorrect
information, leading to increased casualties.
A police file, dating from 1996, indicated that ETA needs about 15
million pesetas (about 90,000 Euros) daily in order to finance its
operations. Although ETA used robbery as a means of financing in its
early days, it has since been accused both of arms trafficking and of
benefiting economically from its political counterpart Batasuna. The two
most important methods that the organization has used to obtain finances
are kidnapping and extortion, euphemistically known as “revolutionary
taxes.” Other similar organizations such as FARC have also used this
tactic. In 2002 the judge Baltasar Garzуn seized the herriko tabernas
(people’s taverns) which were reportedly collecting these “revolutionary
ETA is known to have had contacts with the Irish Republican Army; the
two groups have both, at times, characterized their struggles as
parallel. It has also had links with other militant left-wing movements
in Europe and in other places throughout the world. Because of its
allegiance to Marxist ideas, ETA has in the past been sponsored by
communist regimes such as Cuba, as well as by Libya and Lebanon. Some of
its members have found political asylum in Mexico and Venezuela.
1.5 Political issues
ETA’s political wing is Batasuna, formerly known as Euskal Herritarrok
and “Herri Batasuna”, which generally receives about 10% of the vote in
the Basque areas of Spain.
Batasuna’s political status has been a very controversial issue. The
Spanish Cortes (parliament) began the process of declaring the party
illegal in August 2002, a move which was strongly disputed by many who
felt that it was too draconian. Judge Baltasar Garzуn suspended the
activities of Batasuna in a parallel trial, investigating the
relationship between Batasuna and ETA, and its headquarters were shut
down by police. The Supreme Court of Spain finally declared Batasuna
illegal on March 18, 2003. The court considered proven that Batasuna had
several links with ETA and that it was, in fact, part of ETA. Batasuna
was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States in May 2003
and by all EU countries in June 2003.
In Spain, all Members of Parliament not belonging to Batasuna or any of
the independentist political parties are required to carry a permanent
escort lest they should be attacked by ETA. This also extends to all
Basque city councilors of non-Basque-Nationalist parties and several of
the Basque Nationalist officials.
During Franco’s dictatorship
ETA was founded by young nationalists, initially affiliated with the
PNV. Started in 1953 as a student discussion group at the University of
Deusto in Bilbao, an offshoot of the PNV’s youth group EGI, it was
originally called EKIN, from the Basque-language verb meaning “to act”;
the name had the meaning “get busy”.
On July 31, 1959 it reconstituted itself as ETA. Their split from the
PNV was apparently because they considered the PNV too moderate in its
opposition to Franco’s dictatorship. They disagreed with the PNV’s
rejection of violent tactics and advocated a Basque resistance movement
utilizing direct action. This was an era of wars of national liberation
such as the anti-colonial war in Algeria.
In their platform, formed at their first assembly in Bayonne, France in
1962, ETA called for “historical regenerationism”, considering Basque
history as a process of construction of a nation. They declared that
Basque nationality is defined by the Basque language, Euskara; this was
in contrast to the PNV’s definition of Basque nationality in terms of
ethnicity. In contrast with the explicit Catholicism of the PNV, ETA
defined itself as “aconfessional” (religiously pluralistic), rejecting
the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, although using Catholic
doctrine to elaborate its social program. They called for socialism and
for “independence for Euskadi, compatible with European federalism”.
In 1965, ETA adopted a Marxist-Leninist position; its precise political
line has varied with time, although they have always advocated some type
In its early years, ETA’s activity seems to have consisted mostly of
theorizing and of protesting by destroying infrastructure and Spanish
symbols and by hanging forbidden Basque flags.
It is not possible to say when ETA first began a policy of
assassination, nor is it clear who committed the first assassinations
identified with ETA. There are sources that say the first was the June
27, 1960 death of a 22-month-old child, Begoсa Urroz Ibarrola, who died
in a bombing in San Sebastiбn; other sources single out a failed 1961
attempt to derail a train carrying war veterans; others point to the
unpremeditated June 7, 1968 killing of a guardia civil, Josй Pardines
Arcay by ETA member Xabi Etxebarrieta: the policeman had halted
Etxebarrieta’s car for a road check. Etxebarrieta was soon killed by the
Spanish police, leading to retaliation in the form of the first ETA
assassination with major repercussions, was that of Melitуn Manzanas,
chief of the secret police in San Sebastiбn and a suspected torturer. In
1970, several members of ETA were condemned to death in the Proceso de
Burgos (“Trial of Burgos”), but international pressure resulted in
commutation of the sentences, which, however, had by that time already
been applied to some other members of ETA. The most consequential
assassination performed by ETA during Franco’s dictatorship was the
December 1973 assassination by bomb in Madrid of admiral Luis Carrero
Blanco, Franco’s chosen successor and president of the government (a
position roughly equivalent to being a prime minister). This killing,
committed as a reprisal for the execution of Basque independentistas,
was widely applauded by the Spanish opposition in exile.
During the transition
After Franco’s death, during Spain’s transition to democracy ETA split
into two separate organizations: the majority became ETA
political-military or ETA(pm), the minority ETA military or ETA(m).
ETA(pm) accepted the Spanish government’s offer of amnesty to all ETA
prisoners, even those who had committed violent crimes; abandoned the
policy of violence; and integrated into the political party Euskadiko
Ezkerra (“Left of the Basque Country”), which years later split. One
faction retained the name Euskadiko Ezkerra for some years, before
merging into the Partido Socialista de Euskadi (PSE), the Basque
affiliate of the national PSOE); the other became Euskal Ezkerra (EuE,
“Basque Left”) and then merged into Eusko Alkartasuna. Some of the
former ETA members (like Mario Onaindнa, Jon Juaristi, Joseba
Pagazaurtundua) evolved to non-nationalist leftism or even Spanish
nationalism, thus becoming targets or victims for ETA.
Meanwhile, ETA(m) (which, again, became known simply as ETA) adopted
even more radical and violent positions. The years 1978–80 were to prove
ETA’s most deadly, with 68, 76, and 91 fatalities, respectively.
During the Franco era, ETA was able to take advantage of toleration by
the French government, which allowed its members to move freely through
French territory, believing that in this manner they were contributing
to the end of Franco’s regime. There is much controversy over the degree
to which this policy of “sanctuary” continued even after the transition
to democracy, but it is generally agreed that currently the French
authorities collaborate closely with the Spanish government against ETA.
ETA performed their first car bomb assassination in Madrid in September
1985, resulting in one death and 16 injuries; another bomb in July 1986
killed 12 members of the Guardia Civil and injured 50; on July 19, 1987
the Hipercor bombing was an attack in a shopping center in Barcelona,
killing 21 and injuring 45; in the last case, several entire families
were killed. ETA claimed in a communique that they had given advance
warning of the Hipercor bomb, but that the police had declined to
evacuate the area.
In a “dirty war” against ETA, Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberaciуn (GAL,
“Antiterrorist Liberation Groups”), a government-sponsored and
supposedly counter-terrorist organization active 1986–87 (and possibly
later) committed assassinations, kidnappings and torture, not only of
ETA members but of civilians, some of whom turned out to have nothing to
do with ETA. In 1997 a Spanish court convicted and imprisoned several
individuals involved in GAL, not only footsoldiers but politicians up to
the highest levels of government, including a minister of the interior.
No major cases of foul play on part of the Spanish government after 1987
have been proven in court, although ETA supporters routinely claim human
rights violations and torture by security forces, and international
human rights organizations have backed some of these claims.
In 1986 Gesto por la Paz (known in English as Association for Peace in
the Basque Country) was founded; they began to convene silent
demonstrations in communities throughout the Basque Country the day
after any violent killing, whether by ETA or by GAL. These were the
first systematic demonstrations in the Basque Country against terrorist
violence. Also in 1986, in Ordizia, ETA assassinated Marнa Dolores
Katarain, known as “Yoyes”, the former director of ETA who had abandoned
armed struggle and rejoined civil society: they accused her of
January 12, 1988 all Basque political parties except ETA-affiliated
Herri Batasuna signed the Ajuria-Enea pact with the intent of ending
ETA’s violence. Weeks later on January 28, ETA announced a 60-day
“ceasefire”, later prolonged several times. A negotiation in Algeria
known as the Mesa de Argel (“Algiers Table”) was attempted between ETA
(represented by Eugenio Etxebeste, “Antxon”) and the then-current PSOE
government of Spain, but no successful conclusion was reached, and ETA
eventually resumed the use of violence.
During this period, the Spanish government had a policy referred to as
“reinsertion”, under which imprisoned ETA members who the government
believed had genuinely abandoned violent intent could be freed and
allowed to rejoin society. Claiming a need to prevent ETA from
coercively impeding this reinsertion, the PSOE government decided that
imprisoned ETA members, who previously had all been imprisoned within
the Basque Country, would instead be dispersed to prisons throughout
Spain, some as far from their families as in the Salto del Negro prison
in the Canary Islands. France has taken a similar approach. In the
event, the only clear effect of this policy was to incite social
protest, especially from nationalists, over the supposed illegality of
the policy itself. Much of the protest against this policy runs under
the slogan “Euskal presoak – Euskal Herrira” (Basque prisoners to the
Another Spanish counter-terrorist law puts suspected terrorist cases
under the specialized tribunal Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. Suspected
terrorists are subject to a habeas corpus term longer than other
In 1992, ETA’s three top leaders — military leader Francisco Mujika
Garmendia (“Pakito”), political leader Josй Luis Alvarez Santacristina
(“Txelis”) and logistical leader Josй Marнa Arregi Erostarbe (“Fiti”),
often referred to collectively as the “cupola” of ETA or as the Artapalo
collective — were arrested in the French Basque town of Bidart, which
led to changes in ETA’s leadership and direction. After a two-month
truce, ETA adopted even more radical positions. The principal
consequence of the change appears to have been the creation of the “Y
Groups”, young people (generally minors) dedicated to so-called “kale
borroka” — street struggle — and whose activities included burning
buses, street lamps, benches, ATMs, garbage containers, etc. and
throwing Molotov cocktails. The appearance of these groups was
attributed by many to supposed weakness of ETA, which obligated them to
resort to minors to maintain or augment their impact on society after
arrests of leading militants, including the “cupola”. ETA also began to
menace leaders of other parties besides rival Basque nationalist
parties. The existence of the “Y Groups” as an organized phenomenon has
been contested by some supporters of Basque national liberation, who
claim that this construction is merely a trumped-up excuse to give
longer prison sentences to those convicted of street violence.
In 1995, the armed organization again launched a peace proposal. The
so-called Democratic Alternative replaced the earlier KAS Alternative as
a minimum proposal for the establishment of Euskal Herria. The
Democratic Alternative offered the cessation of all armed ETA activity
if the Spanish-government would recognize the Basque people as having
sovereignty over Basque territory and the right to self-determination.
The Spanish government ultimately rejected this peace offer.
Also in 1995 came a failed ETA car bombing attempt directed against Josй
Marнa Aznar, a conservative politician who was leader of the
then-opposition Partido Popular (PP) and was shortly after elected to
the presidency of the government; their was also an abortive attempt in
Majorca on the life of King Juan Carlos I. Still, the act with the
largest social impact came the following year. July 10, 1997 PP activist
Miguel Бngel Blanco was kidnapped in the Basque city of Ermua and his
death threatened unless the Spanish government would meet ETA’s demands.
Six million people demonstrated to demand his liberation, with
demonstrations occurring as much in the Basque regions as elsewhere in
Spain. After three days, ETA carried through their threat, unleashing
massive demonstrations reflecting the ETA action with the cries of
“Assassins” and “Basques yes, ETA no”. This response came to be known as
the “Spirit of Ermua”.
After the Good Friday Accord marked the beginning of the end of violent
hostilities in Northern Ireland, and given that the Ajuria-Enea pact had
failed to bring peace to the Basque Country, the Lizarra/Estella Pact
brought together political parties, unions, and other Basque groups in
hopes again of changing the political situation. Shortly after,
September 18, 1998, ETA declared a unilateral truce or ceasefire, and
began a process of dialogue with Spain’s PP government. The dialogue
continued for some time, but ETA resumed assassinations in 2000,
accusing the government of being “inflexible” and of “not wanting
dialogue”. The communique that declared the end of the truce cited the
failure of the process initiated in the Lizarra/Estella Pact to achieve
political change as the reason for the return to violence. The Spanish
government, from the highest levels, accused ETA of having declared a
false truce in order to rearm. Later came acts of violence such as the
November 6, 2001 car bomb in Madrid, which injured 65, and attacks on
soccer stadiums and tourist destinations.
The September 11, 2001 attacks appeared to have dealt a hard blow to
ETA, owing to the toughening of antiterrorist measures (such as the
freezing of bank accounts), the increase in international police
coordination, and the end of the toleration some countries had, up until
then, extended to ETA. In addition, in 2002 the Basque nationalist youth
movement Jarrai was outlawed and the law of parties was changed
outlawing Herri Batasuna, the “political arm” of ETA (although even
before the change in law, Batasuna had been largely paralyzed and under
judicial investigation by judge Baltasar Garzуn).
With ever-increasing frequency, attempted ETA actions have been
frustrated by Spanish security forces. On Christmas Eve 2003, in San
Sebastiбn and in Hernani, National Police arrested two ETA members who
had left dynamite in a railroad car prepared explode in Chamartнn
Station in Madrid. On March 1, 2004, in a place between Alcalб de
Henares and Madrid, a light truck with 536 kg of explosives was left to
cause a massacre, but was prevented by the action of the Guardia Civil.
On February 18, 2004, ETA publicly stated that a ceasefire only in
Catalonia had been in effect since January 1, based on “a desire to
unite the ties between the Basque and Catalan peoples.” Some claimed
that this ceasefire was based on a secret pact with Josep-Lluнs
Carod-Rovira, leader of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC,
“Republican Left of Catalonia”). Carod-Rovira, despite admitting to
having met with ETA in France in December denied having reached any
accord, saying that the meeting was an attempt to drive ETA away from
violence, and ended with no results. This, during an electoral campaign,
became a scandal, and endangered the recent tripartite Catalan
government, formed by ERC (ERC), Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds-Esquerra
Unida i Alternativa (ICV-EUiA) and the Partit dels Socialistes de
Catalunya (PSC). The opposition then accused Aznar of being behind the
leak to the media of the intelligence report detailing the meeting and
Aznar refused to clarify whether he knew about this meeting before the
leaking. Aznar was also questioned as to why the ETA members who
attended that meeting were not detained.
Also in 2004, ETA was initially suspected of being the authors of a
series of ten bombings only a few days before the national elections,
which targeted three locations along Madrid’s suburban train lines on
the morning of March 11, 2004, killing 192 civilians (see 11 March 2004
Madrid attacks). This theory was officially endorsed by Josй Marнa
Aznar’s government, despite the police quickly gathering evidence
pointing towards Islamic terrorism. Many Spanish citizens took this rush
to judgment as an offence towards the victims of the attacks and towards
the Spanish people; this was generally seen as a decisive factor in the
electoral result which overturned Aznar’s government (see Spanish
legislative election, 2004). The authorship of this attack, the largest
European terror incident in terms of lives lost since the 1988 Pan Am
flight 103 flight bombing, has been finally ascribed to Islamist
terrorists by the Spanish police.
On September 27, 2004, ETA militants sent a videotape to Gara, a Basque
newspaper based in Guipъzcoa, in which the militants stated that ETA
would continue to fight for Basque self-determination and that ETA would
“respond with arms at the ready to those who deny us through the force
of arms.” This videotape represented ETA’s first major public statement
since the March 11 attacks. During the weekend preceding the videotape
release, the group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings that
hampered electricity transmission between France and Spain.
On October 3, 2004, French police launched an operation against ETA’s
logistical apparatus, making 21 arrests, among them the couple who
functioned as top ETA leaders, Mikel Albizu Iriarte (“Mikel Antza”) and
Soledad Iparragirre (“Anboto”). They found four zulos (caches) with a
vast quantity of armaments, much greater than had been estimated to be
at ETA’s disposal; they also managed to turn up information about ETA’s
printing an internal newsletter, but nothing leading to any major bank
account or other horde of money. The operation was considered one of the
most successful since Bidart in 1992. As of October 2004, it appears
that these measures will result in ETA leadership moving into different
hands; it is too soon to evaluate the consequences. Spain has solicited
the extradition of Mikel Antza y Amboto via a Euroorden.
On December 4, 2004, Five minor bombs exploded in Madrid. An ETA
spokesman said that ETA was behind this, and local police authorities
found that all the bombs was set to go off 06:30pm local time.
On December 6, 2004, Spanish Constitution Day, ETA detonated seven bombs
in bars, cafes and town squares across Spain.
On December 12, 2004, the Real Madrid Santiago Bernabйu football Stadium
was evacuated due to a phoned-in bomb threat in name of ETA. The
bomb—expected to blow up at 9:00 p.m.—didn’t explode, and the 69,000
spectators of the match under way at the time of the call were safely
evacuated by the Spanish Police at 8:45 p.m.
On February 8, 2005, a car bomb, which carried 30 Kg of cloratite,
exploded in Madrid outside a convention center. At least 43 people were
injured and no one killed.
On February 27, 2005, a small bomb exploded at a resort hotel in
Villajoyosa after a telephonic warning. The building was evacuated and
no one was injured. The explosion damaged only a small house near the
residence’s swimming pool.
1.7 Terrorism in Northern Ireland. IRA
1.7.1 The Irish Problem
The Troubles is a generic term used to describe a period of sporadic
communal violence involving paramilitary organisations, the police, the
British Army and others in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s until
the mid-1990s. (Another term, common among British commentators is the
“Irish Problem”, though this is seen as pejorative by many Irish people
as it seems to absolve Britain of any blame for the conflict and portray
it as a neutral party.) It could also be described as a many-sided
conflict, a guerrilla war or even a civil war.
The origins of the Troubles are complex. What is clear is that its
origins lie in the century long debate over whether Ireland, or part of
Ireland, should be part of the United Kingdom. In 1920, after widespread
political violence, the Government of Ireland Act partitioned the island
of Ireland into two separate states, one of which was Northern Ireland.
According to the majority of unionists, Northern Ireland, which remained
a self governing region of the United Kingdom, was governed in
accordance with “democratic” principles, the rule of law and in
accordance with the will of a majority within its borders to remain part
of the United Kingdom. Nationalists however saw the partition of Ireland
as an illegal and immoral division of the island of Ireland against
their will, and argued that the Northern Ireland state was neither
legitimate nor democratic, but created with a deliberately designed
unionist majority. Each side had their own soundbites to describe their
perspective. Unionist Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Lord
Brookborough talked of a “Protestant state for a Protestant people”,
while a later Republic of Ireland taoiseach (prime minister) Charles
Haughey called Northern Ireland a “a failed political entity”.
The ‘four communities’
Four overlapping segments exist within Northern Ireland. The majority of
the unionist community are generally called Unionists and commit to
supporting political parties like the Ulster Unionist Party (known for
part of the 1970s and 1980s as the Official Unionist Party) or the more
militant protestant Democratic Unionist Party. The larger segment of the
nationalist catholic community are generally called simply Nationalist
and supported at various times the Nationalist Party and since the 1970s
the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Both communities had smaller,
more radical elements who supported at various times what one IRA
strategist called the “armalite and the ballot box” (ie, a combination
of electoral politics and violence when necessary). More radical
elements within the unionist community came to be called Loyalists while
radical nationalists came to be described as Republicans. Each of the
radical groups produced their own paramilitary organisations like the
Provisional IRA, Official IRA, Continuity IRA, Real IRA, Irish National
Liberation Army etc (all republican), and the Ulster Defence
Association, Ulster Freedom Fighters, Red Hand Commandos etc (loyalist).
Most such groups had their own political organisations, while some of
the groups had overlapping memberships. While the various political
movements claimed to speak on behalf of the ‘majority of the people’,
electoral votes throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s returned
majorities for Nationalist and Unionist parties at the expense of
Republican and Loyalist ones, though the latter two did achieve
occasional successes, notably the election of MPs in the constituencies
of West Belfast and Fermanagh & South Tyrone. At its electoral highpoint
during the troubles, in the 1981 Republic of Ireland general election,
it won two seats out of one hundred and sixty six in parliament. Sinn
Fйin’s major electoral successes only followed the ceasefire of the IRA
in the 1990s.
Religion and class
For the most part a clear divide exists in terms of religion and some
times a left-right divide between the various communities. Most though
not all protestants are unionists, while most though not all catholics
are nationalists. While the mainstream organisations representing
Nationalists and Unionists tended to be quite conservative, more
politically and religious radical groups associated with Republicans and
Loyalists, with the leading republican organisation in the 1960s, the
Official IRA and its party, Sinn Fйin adopting a marxist perspective of
the ‘Irish problem’, defining it in terms of “class struggle”, they
arguing for the creation of an ‘Irish socialist republic’. Loyalists in
the 1970s even advocated forms of an “independent ulster” which they
compared to the apartheid-style regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa, in
which one community’s dominance could be ensured.
Except for Unionists, all other segments argued that the Northern
Ireland of the 1960s needed change. Moderate nationalists in the Civil
Rights movement, under figures like John Hume, Gerry Fitt and Austin
Currie advocated an end to the gerrymandering of local government wards
to ensure Protestant victories on minority votes, and the end to
discrimination over access to council housing. They pressed for wide
reforms, whereas Unionists saw “concessions” as part of a process
whereby nationalists would bring down Northern Ireland and force Irish
unity. Republicans adopted a more violent approach to force more radical
change, while Loyalists stepped up their violence to oppose it.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the police force in Northern
Ireland, was largely though not totally Protestant for a complex series
of reasons. Catholics did not join in the numbers expected by the
British when the force was first created. Those that did reported a
‘hostile to Catholics’ working environment, in which Unionist and
Protestant organisations like the Orange Order and the Ulster Unionist
Party had undue influence. Those Catholics who did join were often
targeted by the various IRAs. Yet some Catholic police officers did play
a part in the constabulary. One served as Chief Constable, while the
leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, Mark
Durkan is himself the son of a Catholic RUC man.
The lack of Catholic officers was augmented by the role of constabulary
played in policing, which involved as is generally the case with
policing the maintenance of the status quo. The result was that critics
of the unionist and loyalist communities saw the police force as the
“unionist police force for a unionist state”. Unlike its sister police
force in the South, An Garda Sнochбna, which was mainly composed of
ex-IRA men, the RUC failed to establish cross community trust, with each
community blaming the other or the RUC for failings in policing.
A policing review, part of the Good Friday Agreement, has led to some
reforms of policing, including more rigorous accountability, measures to
increase the number of Catholic officers, and the renaming of the RUC to
the Police Service of Northern Ireland to avoid using the word “Royal”.
There are several paramilitary groups which claim or have claimed the
title Irish Republican Army (IRA) and advocate a unitary Irish state
with no ties to the United Kingdom. All claim descent from the original
“Irish Republican Army”, the “army” of the Irish Republic declared by
Dбil Йireann in 1919. Most Irish people dispute the claims of more
recently created organizations that insist that they are the only
legitimate descendants of the original IRA, often referred to as the
-the Old IRA
-The Official IRA, the remainder of the IRA after the Provisional IRA
seceded in 1969, now apparently inactive in the military sense.
-The Provisional IRA (PIRA), founded in 1969 and best known for
paramilitary campaigns during the 1970s-1990s
-The ‘Real’ IRA, a 1990s breakaway from the PIRA
-The Continuity IRA, another 1990s breakaway from the PIRA
a) The Old IRA
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has its roots in Ireland’s struggle for
independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the
early twentieth century. It is important to differentiate between what
is termed the ‘Old IRA’ and the ‘Official IRA’ from the Provisional IRA
(PIRA), a splinter-group which formed in the late 1960s in the wake of
institutionalized anti-Catholic discrimination, riots and murders
(mainly in Belfast and Derry).
The Irish Republican Army first emerged as the army of the Irish
Republic that had been declared at the Easter Rising of 1916 and
affirmed by the First Dail in January 1919. It was descended from the
Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army which had existed in the
second decade of the twentieth century and which had played a part in
the Easter Rising.
The Irish Defence Forces, the Official and Provisional IRA and the
‘Continuity’ and ‘Real IRA’ all lay claim to the title Уglaigh na
hЙireann (in the Irish language, Irish Volunteers.) Michael Collins took
an active role in reorganizing the IRA. Its formation and its subsequent
development were inextricably intertwined and interrelated with the
subsequent political history of Ireland and Northern Ireland and any
consideration of the IRA therefore needs to be set firmly in context.
In 1914 the long-running Irish nationalist demand for home rule had
finally been conceded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
government, subject to two provisos: that it would not come into being
until the end of the First World War, and that the six northern counties
of Ireland were to be temporarily excluded from the control of a home
rule parliament in Dublin. The latter demand had resulted from a
campaign of physical disobedience by northern unionists, producing a
fear in Britain that the concession of home rule would lead to a civil
war between nationalists and unionists.
For a minority of nationalists, the home rule conceded was judged to be
too little, too late. In the Easter Rising of 1916, these nationalists
staged a rebellion against British rule in Dublin and in some other
isolated areas. Weapons had been supplied by Germany, under the auspices
of a leading human rights campaigner, Sir Roger Casement. However the
plot had been discovered and the weapons were lost when the ship
carrying them was scuttled rather than allowed to be captured.
The rebellion was largely centered on Dublin. The leaders seized the
Dublin General Post Office (GPO), raising a green flag bearing the
legend ‘Irish Republic’, and proclaiming independence for Ireland.
Though Republican history often claimed that the Rising and its leaders
had public support, in reality there were widespread calls for the
execution of the ringleaders, coming from the major Irish nationalist
daily newspaper, the ‘Irish Independent’ and local authorities.
Dubliners not only cooperated with the British troops sent to quell the
uprising, but undermined the Republicans as well. Many people spat and
threw stones at them as they were marched towards the transport ships
that would take them to the Welsh internment camps.
However, public opinion gradually shifted, initially over the summary
executions of 16 senior leaders–some of whom, such as James Connolly,
were too ill to stand–and people thought complicit in the rebellion. As
one observer described, “the drawn out process of executing the leaders
of the rising… it was like watching blood seep from behind a closed
door.” Opinion shifted even more in favor of the Republicans in 1917-18
with the Conscription Crisis, when Britain tried to impose conscription
on Ireland to bolster its flagging war effort.
Sinn Fйin, commonly known as the IRA’s political arm, was widely
credited with orchestrating the Easter rising, although the group was
advocating less-than-full independence at the time. The party’s
then-leader, Arthur Griffith, was campaigning for a dual monarchy with
Britain, a return to the status quo of the so-called ‘Constitution of
1782’, forged in Grattan’s Parliament. The Republican survivors, under
Eamon de Valera, infiltrated and took over Sinn Fйin, leading to a
crisis of goals in 1917.
In a compromise agreed to at its Бrd Fheis (party conference) Sinn Fйin
agreed to initially campaign for a republic. Having established one, it
would let the electorate decide on whether to have a monarchy or
republic; however, if they chose a monarchy, no member of the British
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha/Windsor Royal Family was to be eligible for the Irish
From 1916 to 1918, the two dominant nationalist movements, Sнnn Fйin and
the Irish Parliamentary Party fought a tough series of battles in
by-elections. Neither won a decisive victory; however, the Conscription
Crisis tipped the balance in favor of Sinn Fйin. The party went on to
win a clear majority of seats in the 1918 general election and most were
Sinn Fйin MPs elected in 1918 chose not to take their seats in
Westminster but instead set up an independent ‘Assembly of Ireland’, or
‘Dбil Йireann’, in Gaelic. On January 21st, 1919, this new, unofficial
parliament assembled in the Mansion House in Dublin. As its first acts,
the Dбil elected a prime minister (Priomh Aire), Cathal Brugha, and a
inaugurated a ministry called the Aireacht).
The first shots in the Irish War of Independence were fired in
Soloheadbeg, Tipperary on the 21st of January 1919 by Sean Treacy. Two
RIC constables (James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell) were killed while
the South Tipperary IRA volunteer unit was attempting to seize a
quantity of gelignite. Technically, the men involved were considered to
be in a serious breach of IRA discipline and were liable to be
court-martialed, but it was considered more politically expedient to
hold them up as examples of a rejuvenated militarism. The conflict soon
escalated into guerrilla warfare by what were then known as the Flying
Columns in remote areas. Attacks on particularly remote Royal Irish
Constabulary (RIC) barracks continued throughout 1919 and 1920, forcing
the police to consolidate defensively in the larger towns, effectively
placing large areas of the countryside in the hands of the Republicans.
In response, the British sent hundreds of World War I veterans to assist
the RIC. The veterans reportedly wore a combination of black police
uniforms and tan army uniforms, which, according to one etymology,
inspired the nickname ‘Black and Tans’. The brutality of the ‘Black and
Tans’ is now legendary, although the most excessive repression
attributed to the Crown’s forces was often the fault of the Auxiliary
Division of the Constabulary.
The IRA was also accused of excesses; in particular against the property
of Loyalists in the Munster area. Both Dбil Йireann (the Irish
Parliament) and Sinn Fйin were proscribed by the British government.
David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister at the time, found
himself under increasing political pressure to try to salvage something
from the situation. Eamon de Valera refused to attend talks, realizing
that compromise was inevitable, but that movements in that direction
would hurt his image. An unexpected olive branch came from King George
V, who, supported by South African statesman General Jan Smuts1, managed
to get the British government to accept a radical re-draft of his
proposed speech to the Northern Ireland parliament, meeting in Belfast
City Hall in June 1921. The King had often protested about the methods
employed by Crown forces to Lloyd George.
The speech, which called for reconciliation on all sides, changed the
mood and enabled the British and Irish Republican governments to agree a
truce. Negotiations on an Anglo-Irish Treaty took place in late 1921 in
London. The Irish delegation was led by Arthur Griffith, as de
Valera–now ‘President of the Republic’–insisted that as head of state
he could not attend, as King George was not leading the British
Under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Ireland was partitioned,
creating Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Under the terms of the
Anglo-Irish agreement of 6 December 1921, which ended the war
(1919-1921), Northern Ireland was given the option of withdrawing from
the new state, the Irish Free State, and remaining part of the United
Kingdom. The Northern Ireland parliament chose to do so. A Boundary
Commission was then set up to review the border.
Irish leaders expected that it would so reduce Northern Ireland’s size
as to make it economically unviable. Contrary to myth, partition was not
the key breaking point between pro and anti-Treaty campaigners; all
sides expected the Boundary Commission to ‘deliver’ Northern Ireland.
The actual split was over symbolic issues: could the Irish Republic be
dissolved? Could Irish politicians take the Oath of Allegiance called
for in the Anglo-Irish Treaty? Anti-treaty republicans under de Valera
answered both questions in the negative. They withdrew from the Dбil
Йireann, which had narrowly approved the Treaty.
Many of the leading members of the Old IRA, the army of the Republic,
joined the new national army of the Irish Free State, while others
rejoined civilian life. A small minority, continuing to claim the name
‘IRA’, waged a bloody civil war against the new Irish Free State civil
administration, led by W.T. Cosgrave. This war killed off both
well-known Republican leaders, such as Michael Collins, and the Old IRA
itself, setting off a chain of splits that would occur regularly over
the remainder of the 20th century.
b) The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) is a paramilitary group
which aimed, through armed struggle, to achieve three goals:
-British withdrawal from Ireland,
-the political unification of Ireland through the merging of Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and
-the creation of an all-Ireland socialist republic.
They are also known as the ‘Provos’ and the Irish Republican Army. It is
most commonly referred to simply as the IRA, but several groups claim
this title. In the Irish language they style themselves Уglaigh na
hЙireann (“Volunteers of Ireland”), the same title used by the regular
Irish Defence Forces.
The IRA’s campaign against those perceived as standing in the way of its
desired aims (which included the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the British
Army, the Unionist establishment and, on occasion, the police and army
in the Republic of Ireland) played a central role in the Troubles in
Northern Ireland. It has been officially on ceasefire since 1997.
The Provisional IRA was initially a splinter group of the ‘Official’
IRA, which claimed descent from the Old IRA: the guerrilla army of the
1919-1922 Irish Republic. The Official IRA moved to a Marxist analysis
of Irish partition, eventually leading to its refusal to defend Catholic
communities from the attacks of Protestant mobs for fear of being seen
as sectarian, in the mid 1960s. The PIRA held to a more pragmatic
republican analysis and became larger and more successful, eventually
overshadowing the original group. The name, the “Provisional” IRA arose
when those who were unhappy with the IRA’s Army Council formed a
“Provisional Army Council” of their own, echoing in turn the
“Provisional Government” proclaimed during the Easter Rising of 1916.
The split in the armed wing of the republican movement was mirrored in
the separation of the republican political wing. Supporters of the PIRA
split from ‘Official’ Sinn Fйin to form Provisional Sinn Fйin.
Provisional Sinn Fйin was later known simply as Sinn Fйin while
‘Official’ Sinn Fйin eventually became the Workers’ Party, later the
Democratic Left. This group eventually merged with the Irish Labour
Party, after serving in government with them.
Strength and support
The PIRA has several hundred members, as well as tens of thousands of
civilian sympathisers on the island of Ireland, mostly in Ulster.
However, the movement’s appeal was hurt badly by more notorious PIRA
bombings widely perceived as ‘atrocities’, such as the killing of
civilians attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in
Enniskillen in 1987, and the killing of two children at Warrington,
which led to tens of thousands of people descending on O’Connell Street
in Dublin to call for an end to the PIRA’s campaign of violence. In the
1990’s the IRA moved to attacking economic targets, such as the Baltic
Exchange and Canary Wharf, the latter of which killed two civilians.
In recent times the movement’s strength has been weakened by operatives
leaving the organisation to join hardline splinter groups such as the
Continuity IRA and the Real IRA. If the PIRA has enjoyed mass support
this has not, historically, been reflected in support for its associated
political party, Sinn Fйin, which, until recently, did not receive the
support of more than a minority of nationalists in Northern Ireland, or
of voters in general in the Republic of Ireland. Sinn Fein now has 24
members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (out of 108), 4 Northern
Ireland MPs (out of 18) and 5 TDs (members of the parliament of the
Republic of Ireland, out of 166). This is widely perceived as support
for the IRA ceasefire and some commentators maintain this support would
decrease if the IRA returned to violence.
In the past, the PIRA has received funds and arms from sympathisers in
the United States, notably from the Noraid (Irish Northern Aid)
organisation. The PIRA has also, on occasion, received assistance from
foreign governments and paramilitary groups, including considerable
training and arms from Libya and assistance from the Palestinian
Liberation Organisation (PLO). U.S. support has been weakened by the
so-called “War against Terrorism”, the events of the 11th September 2001
and the discovery of three men (two known members of the IRA and the
Sinn Fein representative in Cuba) in Colombia, allegedly training
Colombian FARC guerrillas. These men were eventually acquitted of aiding
FARC, and convicted solely on the lesser charge of possessing false
passports, however the prosecution appealed the acquittal and the men
have now been convicted and sentenced to long jail terms. The three men
disappeared while on bail and their whereabouts are still not known. The
case was controversial for several reasons, including the heavy reliance
on the testimony of a former FARC member and dubious forensic evidence.
There was also considerable political pressure from the right-wing
government of Alvaro Uribe, members of which had called for a guilty
verdict. The organisation has also been accused of raising funds through
smuggling, racketeering and bank robberies.
In February 2005 prominent PIRA members were denounced by relatives of
Robert McCartney leading to Gerry Adams for the first time calling for
the Catholic Community in Northern Ireland to give evidence against the
The Belfast Agreement
The PIRA cease-fire in 1997 formed part of a process that led to the
1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The Agreement has among its aims
that all extra-legal paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland cease their
activities and disarm by May 2000.
Calls from Sinn Fйin have lead the IRA to commence disarming in a
process that has been overviewed by General John de Chastelain’s
decommissioning body in October, 2001. However, following the collapse
of the Stormont power-sharing government in 2002, which was partly
triggered by allegations that republican spies were operating within
Parliament Buildings and the Civil Service, the PIRA temporarily broke
contact with General de Chastelain. It is expected that, if and when
power-sharing resumes, the PIRA disarmament process will begin again,
though it is already considered by some to be behind schedule.
Increasing numbers of people, from the Ulster Unionists under David
Trimble and the Social Democratic and Labour Party under Mark Durkan to
the Irish Government under Bertie Ahern and the mainstream Irish media,
have begun demanding not merely decommissioning but the wholesale
disbandment of the PIRA.
In December, 2004, attempts to persuade the PIRA to disarm entirely
collapsed when the DUP, under Ian Paisley, insisted on photographic
evidence. The PIRA stated that this was an attempt at humiliation and so
the attempts collapsed.
At the beginning of February 2005, the PIRA declared that it was
withdrawing from the disarmament process.
The Provisional IRA’s activities have included bombings, assassinations,
kidnappings, ‘punishment beatings’ of civilians accused of criminal
behaviour, robberies and extortion. Previous targets have included the
British military, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and Loyalist militants
– against all of whom PIRA gunmen and bombers fought a guerrilla war.
PIRA has also targeted British Government officials, Unionist
politicians and certain civilians in both Northern Ireland and Great
Britain. Many Protestant civilians perceived to have been assisting the
British were killed in Northern Ireland, whilst many British civilians
were killed during the IRA bombing campaign in England, which was often
directed against civilian targets such as pubs, as well as targets of an
One of their most famous victims was Lord Louis Mountbatten, killed on
August 27, 1979, by a PIRA bomb placed in his boat.
Also many Catholic civilians have been killed by PIRA in Northern
Ireland for alleged “collaboration” with the British security forces
(i.e. the British army or the RUC). The IRA has also summarily
“executed” or otherwise punished suspected drug dealers and other
suspected criminals in the past, sometimes after kangaroo trials. IRA
members suspected of being British or Irish government informers were
also executed, often after interrogation and torture and a kangaroo
Members of the Garda Sнochбna (the Republic of Ireland’s police force)
have also been killed; most notorious was the killing of Detective Garda
Jerry McCabe, who was shot and killed after the commencement of the IRA
ceasefire, while escorting a post office delivery. PIRA bombing
campaigns have been conducted against rail and London Underground
(subway) stations, pubs and shopping areas on the island of Great
Britain, and a British military facility on Continental Europe.
It has recently been claimed that elements of the PIRA have been
involved in a spate of bank robberies throughout the island of Ireland,
allegedly to build up funds to ‘pension off’ PIRA members and so
The PIRA has been officially on ceasefire since July 1997 (although
hardline splinter groups such as the Continuity IRA and so-called Real
IRA continue their campaigns). It previously observed a cease-fire from
1 September 1994 to February 1996, after the Downing Street Declaration,
although this was ended when the British government refused to talk to
c) Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein used to be widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA,
but today the party insists that the two organisations are completely
A republican party devoted to establishing a united Ireland, Sinn Fein
advocates strong cross-border bodies as a step towards achieving that
goal and the maintenance of the Irish Republic’s territorial claim to
It is a strong supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, but accuses
unionists of undermining the deal in the months since it was signed.
The original Sinn Fein campaigned for an independent, united Ireland
before and after the First World War. The current form of the party
dates back to 1970 when Provisional Sinn Fein split away from Official
Sinn Fein, which became the Workers’ Party. This split mirrored the
split in the IRA into Official and Provisional wings.
Since the early 1980s, Sinn Fein has slowly gained strength and
political power. At the 1997 general election, it won 16% of the vote.
Its two MPs, party president Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, have
never sat at Westminster as they refuse to take the oath of allegiance
to the Queen.
Sinn Fein has 18 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and two seats on
Sinn Fein was angered by the refusal of First Minister David Trimble to
allow it to take up its executive seats until the IRA began to disarm,
arguing that the Agreement gave it an automatic right to attend
regardless of the IRA’s actions.
In November 1999, however, Sinn Fein made a statement reaffirming its
beliefs in decommissioning as an essential part of the peace process and
in the IRA’s commitment to a permanent peace. That statement – and
similar declarations from the Ulster Unionists and the IRA – were seen
as a breakthrough in the decommissioning deadlock.
Three months later, however, it became apparent that no decommissioning
had taken place. Sinn Fein was angered by unionist pressure on the
government and the suspension of the executive, arguing that this
amounted to a unionist veto.
Sinn Fein welcomed the IRA’s announcement in May 2000 that it was ready
to put its weapons beyond use.
When Sinn Fйin and the DUP became the largest parties of the two
communities, it was clear that no deal could be made without the support
of both parties. They nearly reached a deal in November 2004, but the
DUP’s insistence on photographic evidence of the decommissing, as had
been demanded by Rev. Dr Ian Paisley, meant the failure of the
arrangement. The robbery of Ј26.5 million from the Northern Bank in
Belfast in December 2004, in which two staff members were forced to
participate under threat that their families would be killed if they
refused, further scuppered chances of a deal, as PSNI Chief Constable
Hugh Orde blamed the IRA. This assessment was echoed by the Garda
Siochana Commissioner, Noel Conroy. The two governments, and all
political parties bar Sinn Fйin itself have publicly accepted this
assessment, with the Police Constable and the Garda Commissioner jointly
scheduled to brief the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of State
for Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, at a meeting in Downing Street in early
In late January 2005 Gerry Adams met separately with prime ministers
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern. Both men reportedly forcefully told the
Sinn Fein leader of their conviction that the IRA were involved and
warned that the IRA’s alleged actions could scupper hopes of a
re-establishment of the power-sharing government.
In the aftermath of the row over the robbery, a further controversy
erupted when, on RTE’s Questions and Answers programme, the chairman of
Sinn Fein, Mitchel McLoughlin, insisted that the IRA’s controversial
killing of a mother of ten young children, Jean McConville, in the early
1970s though “wrong”, was not a “crime”. Politicians from the Republic,
along with the Irish media strongly attacked McLoughlin’s comments.
In the Dail on 26 January 2005, when challenged by Sinn Fein TDs over
his insistence that the robbery was the work of the IRA, Bertie Ahern
listed off punishment beatings that had been carried out in Northern
Ireland, and which he blamed directly on the IRA. He accused Sinn Fein
of stopping the IRA from carrying out punishment beatings (in which a
civilian was beaten with a bat and had their legs broken, or was shot in
the knees or sometimes in the hands) at sensitive times in negotiations
in Northern Ireland, with the beatings beginning again once the
negotiations had been completed. Sinn Fein TDs denied the allegation and
called the claims “outrageous”.
On 10 February 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that
it firmly supported the PSNI and Garda assessments that the Provisional
IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery and that certain
senior members of Sinn Fein are also senior members of the Provisional
IRA and would have had knowledge of and given approval to the carrying
out of the robbery. The political consequences of this are likely to
involve further cuts in the salaries and expenses of Sinn Fein members
of the Northern Ireland Assembly and exclusion from ministerial office
should the Assembly be restored in the near future.
Gerry Adams responded to the report by challenging the Irish Government
to have him arrested for conspiracy.
On 20 February 2005, Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell
publicly accused three of the Sinn Fйin leadership, Gerry Adams, Martin
McGuinness and Martin Ferris (TD for Kerry North) of being on the
seven-man IRA Army Council. Gerry Adams denied this at an address in
Strabane, on the occasion of a ceremony commemorating three IRA men
killed by the SAS 20 years ago. Martin McGuinness denied the allegations
in a TV interview on RTЙ.
On 27 February 2005, a republican demonstration against the IRA’s murder
of Robert McCartney on 30 January 2005 is held in East Belfast. Alex
Maskey, a former Sinn Fein Mayor of Belfast, told relatives to “stop
making stupid comments” to the press following Gerry MacKay’s demand
that Mr Maskey “hand over the 12” IRA members involved .
d) The Real Irish Republican Army is a paramilitary group founded by
former members of the Provisional IRA before the signing of the 1998
Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. The Real IRA is opposed to the
Provisional IRA’s 1997 cease-fire and acquiescence in the accord.
It originally attracted disaffected IRA members from the Republican
stronghold of South Armagh, and some member in Derry. Its first leader
was Michael McKevitt, a former quarter master general of the Provisional
IRA, but he has since been imprisoned on charges of directing terrorism.
Shortly after its formation, the Real IRA began attacks similar in
nature to those conducted by the Provisional IRA prior to its ceasefire.
However, it lacked a significant base, and was heavily infiltrated with
informers, leading to a series of high profile arrests and seizures by
British and Irish police in the first half of 1998. Despite this, the
Real IRA succeeded in bombing Omagh town centre on August 14 1998,
killing 29 people. This caused a major outcry in Ireland. Many of its
members abandoned the organisation, and British and Irish police
co-operated on an unprecedented scale to destroy the movement.
The Real IRA called a ceasefire in the winter of 1998, but this was
broken after less then two years when the organisation conducted a
number of attacks on the island of Great Britain, including a taxi-bomb
attack on the BBC Television Centre in West London, and a rocket
propelled grenade attack on the headquarters of MI6. Since then, it has
become weaker and weaker. Infiltration has continued, and the movement
has been unable to conduct a noticeable bomb attack. In the fall of
2003, its imprisoned leaders called for an unconditional ceasefire,
citing alleged misuse of funds and the futile nature of their resistance
to the British presence in Ireland.
In recent times, the Real IRA has continued to be a thorn in the side of
both the British and Irish authorities. December 2004 saw 15 fire bomb
attacks against premises in Belfast attributed to the breakaway faction.
Many see this as a sign of growing support for the group, in light of
failed attempts to rescue the Belfast peace accord.
The Real IRA is distinct from the Continuity IRA, another Provisional
IRA splinter group founded in 1986.The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is
perceived to be the political wing of the Real IRA.
e) The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) is an Irish republican
paramilitary group that split from the Provisional IRA in 1986 in a
dispute over the attendance of the elected representatives of Sinn Fйin
(the political party affiliated to the Provisional IRA) at Dбil Йireann
(the lower house of parliament of the Republic of Ireland). The CIRA
also styles itself simply as the ‘Irish Republican Army’ or Уglaigh na
hЙireann, but both of these names are also claimed by other groups,
including the Provisional IRA.
At the 1986 Sinn Fйin Ard Fheis (annual party conference) it was decided
to discontinue the party’s long held policy of abstention from the Dбil
but this decision was rejected by a minority of members who walked out
of the conference to form a new political party–Republican Sinn
Fйin–and a new paramilitary group: the CIRA. The dispute within Sinn
Fйin was also seen as one between the Northern Ireland leadership of the
party under Gerry Adams, who remained within ‘Provisional Sinn Fйin’,
and the party’s southern leadership under Ruairн У Brбdaigh, who was
among the defectors.
Contrary to commmon belief, the formation of the CIRA did not arise from
the signing of the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement and predated
that of the ‘Real’ IRA. The CIRA opposes the Agreement nonetheless and,
as of 2004, unlike the Provisional IRA, the CIRA has not announced a
cease fire or agreed to participate in weapons decommissioning. On 13th
July, 2004, the US government designated the CIRA as a “terrorist”
organisation, thereby making it illegal for Americans to provide
material support to it, requiring US financial institutions to block the
group’s assets, and denying CIRA members visas into the US.
The CIRA claim to be the true inheritors of an Irish republican
tradition that includes the ‘Old’ Irish Republican Army that fought the
1919-1921 War of Independence, and claims to have attained legitimacy as
such in being recognised by Tom Maguire, the last surviving member of
the Second Dбil, as the modern incarnation of the old IRA, in what CIRA
supporters perceive to be a kind of ‘apostolic’ succession. These claims
are not widely accepted among republicans however.
Activities: CIRA activities have included numerous bombings,
assassinations and kidnappings, as well as extortion and robbery.
Targets of the CIRA have included British military and Northern Ireland
security targets, as well as loyalist paramilitary groups. It has also
conducted bomb attacks on predominantly Protestant towns in Northern
Ireland. The group is claimed to be the only paramilitary group in
Northern Ireland never to have killed or targeted a civilian. As of
2004, the CIRA is not believed to have an established presence or
capability of launching attacks on the island of Great Britain.
Strength: In 2004 the United States (US) government believed the CIRA to
consist of fewer than fifty fully active members.
External aid: The US government suspected the CIRA of receiving funds
and arms from supporters in the United States. It is also believed that,
in cooperation with the ‘Real’ IRA, the CIRA may have acquired arms and
materiel from the Balkans.
a) Ulster Volunteer Force
The UVF’s name dates back to a Protestant force formed to oppose Home
Rule in 1912. It was revived in 1966 in opposition to liberal unionism.
Its stated mission: to kill IRA members.
The UVF is believed to be smaller than the loyalist Ulster Freedom
Fighters. Responsible for dozens of killings, the UVF was behind the
1994 shootings of Catholics watching a World Cup match on TV in
Loughnisland, County Down.
The UVF has links with the Progressive Unionist Party, which won two
seats in the assembly. It is in favour of the Good Friday Agreement and
has been on ceasefire since 1994.
Prisoners belonging to the UVF are eligible for early release under the
terms of the Agreement and some have been released.
b) Ulster Unionist Party
The UUP has long been the largest party in Northern Ireland.
But the peace process and the difficulties that have come with it has
seen the party’s membership divide and many of its supporters switch to
the hardline Democratic Unionists.
At the 1997 general election, 10 months before the signing of the Good
Friday Agreement, a third of Northern Ireland’s voters supported the
party, delivering it 10 of the 18 parliamentary seats.
The following year, the UUP took 28 of the 108 seats in the Northern
Ireland Assembly, making party leader David Trimble the First
But as Mr Trimble’s leadership and peace process strategy came under
fire from many among his own party, that support slipped – devastatingly
so at the 2001 general election.
Rather than emerging from the election as the unassailable leader of the
unionist community, Mr Trimble witnessed his party finish with just six
seats – three of the losses at the hands of Ian Paisley’s Democratic
The UUP, formerly known as the Official Unionist Party, was the absolute
political master of Northern Ireland from partition in 1921 until the
imposition of direct rule in 1972.
The central plank of UUP policy remained maintaining the link between
Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. But the actual
nature of that link – and what relationship with the Republic of Ireland
– has been the defining characteristics of the party’s political
When the civil rights movement emerged in the 1960s and demanded
political and social change of the unionist government, the party faced
the first of many policy splits.
The first reform-minded leader of the party during that decade, Terrence
O’Neill, sparked fury among unionists after he invited the Irish
Taoiseach to Belfast for talks and advocated social and political change
to what had long been considered a “Protestant state for a Protestant
The last prime minister of Northern Ireland in 1972, Brian (later Lord)
Faulkner, initially resisted any form of powerharing arrangements and
sparked nationalist fury by introducing internment without trial.
But the introduction of direct rule came as a massive body blow to the
party. The closure of Stormont brought to an end its half-century of
control of events in Northern Ireland and eventually led to a
realignment within the party in which the working class members gained
Faulkner eventually agreed to powersharing and a cross-border body as
part of the 1973 Sunningdale agreement – but the party divided as many
members sided with the Democratic Unionists and various loyalist groups
to bring down the deal and the leader.
More than a decade later, the UUP was utterly opposed the Anglo-Irish
Agreement which introduced a role for Dublin in Northern Ireland affairs
through a joint ministerial council; its opposition led to its closest
ever co-operation with the Democratic Unionists.
During the 16 years leadership of James (now Lord) Molyneaux (1979 –
1995), the party pursued a number of devolution strategies which fell
short of powersharing. On powersharing itself, Molyneaux remained clear:
Northern Ireland’s divisions could not be healed through a “shotgun
marriage between those who are British and those … atttracted to the
idea of Irishness.” It was a view apparently held by a majority of the
David Trimble’s taking of the helm in 1995 marked a new direction. He
took the party into the political talks which eventually led to the Good
Mr Trimble’s role in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement led to him
jointly winning the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with the SDLP leader John
Hume – an award that some observers suggested had possibly been made a
few years too early.
Mr Trimble historically secured his party’s backing to work in the
powersharing assembly and cross-border political bodies, but his
leadership quickly became dogged by the vexed question of paramilitary
After one false start, the Northern Ireland executive was established
when the Ulster Unionist council backed David Trimble’s stance on 27
November 1999. The decision – by 480 votes to 349 – paved the way for a
power-sharing executive, linked to decommissioning and marked a
sea-change in Ulster Unionist thinking.
When the executive was suspended within weeks amid Mr Trimble threat to
resign over a lack of movement on decommissioning, the party’s
nationalist critics said that it had failed to learn the lessons of the
past three decades.
But Mr Trimble secured his party’s support on a second occasion after
the a comprehensive deal in May 2000 which sought to address the
concerns of all participants in the political process.
The party remains ruled by the 800-strong Ulster Unionist Council, a
body that has come under the spotlight since 1998 because of its pivotal
role at critical stages of the peace process. The most controversial
aspect of the council is that the Orange Order is allowed to send voting
representatives to its meetings – even though they may be more closely
aligned with other shades of unionism.
c) Democtaric Ulster Party
The DUP was founded in 1971 by the Reverend Ian Paisley and William
Boal, an MP who defected from the Official Unionists in protest at the
policies of the then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence
The DUP led opposition to the Sunningdale power-sharing executive in
Under Rev Paisley’s leadership it has strongly opposed the Good Friday
It is similarly against any other move which it interprets as an attempt
to weaken the union or as a concession to nationalists or the Republic.
Although it has now taken up two ministerial posts on the executive, the
DUP still refuses to have dealings with Sinn Fein members of the same
The DUP is also strongly anti-Catholic in the religious sense. Mr
Paisley often denounces the Pope.
The party has two MPs at Westminster and 20 assembly seats.
1.8 Terrorism in Greece. November 17
(also known as 17N or N17) was a Marxist Greek terrorist organisation
listed in U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Its full name is Revolutionary Organization 17 November (Greek:
???????????? ???????? 17 ???????, Epanastatiki Organosi 17 Noemvri).
N17 had perpetrated a series of attacks from 1975. Until 2002 no member
of the group had been identified or arrested. The group is named after
the November 17, 1973 uprising by students at the Athens Polytechnic
university against the military junta, in which twenty students were
killed. Since the military junta was backed by the United States as part
of that country’s anti-Communist efforts, most of the group’s attacks
have been directed at American targets.
The group’s first attack was in December 1975, when the CIA’s Athens
station chief was shot. The group have committed further assassinations,
often using a .45 caliber handgun, and around fifty other attacks.
Initial attacks were aimed at American and Greek officials but the range
of operations was expanded in the 1980s and 1990s to include bombings
and EU targets. The group is also opposed to Turkey and NATO.
The group wanted to get rid of U.S. bases in Greece, to remove the
Turkish military from Cyprus, and to sever Greece’s ties to NATO and the
In June 2000, the group killed Stephen Saunders, a British Defense
Attachй. His wife went on television urging the Greek people to help
apprehend his killers.
Following a failed operation on June 29, 2002 the Greek authorities
captured an injured suspect, Savvas Xiros. His interrogation led to the
discovery of two safe houses and to the arrest of a further six
suspects, including two brothers of Savvas. A 58 year old professor,
Alexandros Giotopoulos, was identified as the group leader and was
arrested on July 17 on the island of Lipsi. On September 5, Dimitris
Koufodinas—identified as the group’s chief of operations—surrendered to
the authorities. In all, nineteen individuals were charged with some
2,500 offences relating to November 17’s activities. Because of the
20-year statute of limitations, murders before 1984 were not tried by
The trial of the terrorist suspects commenced in Athens on March 3,
2003. On December 8, fifteen of the accused, including Giotopoulos and
Koufodinas, were found guilty; another four were acquitted for lack of
evidence. The convicted members were sentenced on December 17, with
Giotopoulous sentenced to 21 life terms—the heaviest sentence in modern
Greek legal history. Koufodinas received 13 life terms. The prosecutor
has proposed that Christodoulos Xeros receive 10 life terms; Savvas
Xeros six; Vassilitis Tzortzatos four; Iraklis Kostaris one. Lesser
sentences are proposed for the remaining nine, in the light of
Defense lawyers of the defendants as well as several civil rights groups
has stressed the highly irregular character of the trial. The trial was
conducted by a special court with closed doors and the use of television
cameras was prohibited. People sympathetic to their causes believe that
this was so that it would be easier to condemn all the accused despite
very little non-circumstantial evidence. Many of the accused, notably
Alexandros Giotopoulos, denied their participation until the end of the
year long trial. According to Giotopoulos, he was framed so that the
image of a terrorist organization led by a clear leader could be
presented. The accused that did admit participation to the group,
notably Dimitris Koufondinas who took “full political responsibility for
all of the group actions”, presented a picture of a loose horizontally
organized structure with small cells and decisions taken by discussion
Under Greek law, one life term is equal to a 25-year term and a convict
may apply for parole after 16 years. If sentenced to more than one life
term, he or she must serve at least 20 years before being eligible for
parole. Other sentences will run concurrently, with 25-year terms being
the maximum and with parole possible after three-fifths of this term are
On September 17, 2004, the imprisoned started a hunger strike protesting
the especially harsh conditions of their imprisonment and their sensory
isolation. According to their statements, “bourgeois democracy” takes
revenge on them by enclosing them in “a prison witin a prison.”
Past International Action
Although terrorism has long been a central issue on the UN agenda,
commanding an increasingly large focus ever since the September 11th
attacks and the subsequent military actions undertaken in the Middle
East and Central Asia, it has remained surprisingly silent on the topic
of terrorism in Europe. Most of the following resolutions deal with
terrorism in general, or with Islamic extremists, not with any
particular threats within the European Union; that domain remains to be
covered: Resolution 49/60 (1994), Resolution 1269 (1999), and Resolution
Clearly, this issue is both sensitive and complex. The difficulty in
dealing with it directly stems from the illusive nature of the main
actors. No one disputes that terrorists should be punished and deterred,
but the challenge lies in identifying degrees of terrorist actions and
agreeing on the best way to react. As the old cliche goes, one man’s
terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.
Unlike the United States, members of the European Union have not take a
stance of no negotiation with terrorists. Previously, terrorists have
been successful in negotiating with European nations, thereby granting a
degree of validity to their methods. For instance, on 19 January 1975,
when 10 people were taken hostage in the Orly airport in France by Arab
terrorists, French authorities provided the group with an airplane to
fly to Iraq in exchange for the release of the hostages. Similarly, on
27 January of the same year, the June the Second Movement took Peter
Lorenz, a German politician, hostage until five terrorists were released
from jail and allowed to return to Yemen. In April, 12 hostages were
taken in Sweden in exchange for the release of members of terrorists
from the Baader-Meinhof gang. It does not seem that this approach is
viable in the long-run. Negotiation is extremely dangerous and threatens
the future effectiveness of counter-terrorist measures. It shows
weakness on the part of the EU and encourages groups to gain recognition
of their desires through violence. So, one way of discouraging future
attacks is to disprove their political efficacy. The military resources
of Europol, of NATO, of the UN, of the sovereign nations of the EU
should not go to waste. European states can and should fight back.
The problem with this approach is that it does not distinguish between
degrees of action and is not overly sympathetic. Its proponents run the
risk of being labeled hypocrites, of seeming terrorist-like themselves,
and of alienating moderating forces.
Then there are those who believe that, in the vein of Resolution 1373,
the solution to terrorism is financial. Simply put, terrorists need
assets to fund their actions. Without money, they will be unable to
purchase equipment, organize, or communicate, and consequently, unable
to perpetrate any cohesive and effective attacks. Nations should freeze
the funds of suspected terrorists and severely punish anyone who is
suspected of aiding terrorist organizations.
Unfortunately, as easy and straightforward as this approach sounds, it
is extremely problematic. First of all, how do you identify whose assets
to freeze? What relationship or suspicion is enough to cut off funds
from an individual? And perhaps, more to the point, what of prominent
corporations and organizations? If, for instance, some major
international bank is suspected of financing terrorists, it cannot
effectively be shut down or punished. Sometimes, freezing assets of
wealthy individuals or entities can be extremely hurtful to a state’s
economy and can provoke bitter public criticism that may not seem to be
worth the hassle. Finally, it is extremely hard to trace all sources of
There is also the camp of believers who view the issue of terrorism in a
judicial light. The fact that groups commit illegal actions does not
mean that states should violate any international norms of behavior in
dealing with them. Violence and coercion are not the way to go. Rather,
terrorists should be discouraged from acting through strict,
predictable, and unrelenting laws.
Codes of conduct and punishments should be such that individuals will
find it in their best interests to stay away from any suspected
terrorist activity. Stricter punishment, not force, should be the main
deterrent. Terrorists who are caught should be tried fairly and openly,
and sentenced accordingly. Then there can be no international censure,
since no force has been used, and individuals are brought to justice
morally and legally.
Once again, this optimistic view is not completely in touch with
reality. First is the issue of time delay. Trials can take an extremely
long time to reach a final verdict, in the meantime offering a window of
opportunity for further terrorist actions. Then, the argument has been
made repeatedly that certain religious beliefs hold death as a martyr as
holy and noble; legal sentences do not do anything to discourage
individuals who hold these beliefs from engaging in terrorist
activities. Something more tangible, such as military strength or
financial insolvency (i.e. actions that will physically prevent attacks
from being carried out), should be the policy, since a moral or legal
threat is unlikely to be effective.
One of the most important steps that can be taken in fighting terrorism
is the recognition that it does not exist in a vacuum. Terrorist
activity has links to issues of transnational crime, immigration, the
drug trade, and numerous other endeavors. As the Italian government
states, “The fight against international terrorism must be accompanied
by effective measures to combat transnational crime and illegal
immigration, with the reinforcement of EUROPOL, and by constant and
coordinated control of external borders; by laying down common rules on
asylum; by stepping up cooperation arrangements with the countries of
origin or transit of the migration flows; and by improving cooperation
between Member States on matters relating to visas.”
No measure against terrorism will be effective if it does not also take
into consideration the issues that are closely related to terrorist
There really are no clear-cut bloc positions on this issue. Basically,
every member of the European Union opposes terrorism in essence and
would like to see something done to combat it. No one would like to be
caught voting against an anti-terrorism measure. However, there are some
degrees of variation within this general consensus. For instance, while
Great Britain is much more likely to agree to a stringent, more military
and punitive measure, France may be more likely to opt for a more
accommodating solution. In the long run, though, every country has an
interest in coming up with an effective solution and all are likely to
work together to come up with a compromise measure that will protect
them all from terrorist attacks. Every member of the EU is threatened
and so every member will work to implement an effective resolution.
Where the tension will come in is in the exact strictness and direction
the proposal will take.
The number of European deaths from terror attacks over the last few
decades has remained relatively constant. It’s our perception of the
threat that’s changed.
Attacks against ‘soft’ civilian targets are not new, we can just recall
the IRA pub bombings in the 1960s. The concern is that terrorists now
seem to be more interested in these targets – it’s very difficult to
protect every pub, or every train, in the country.
Then there’s the increased threat of Islamic terrorism. The September 11
attacks also ushered in a new era, where the West learned the
devastating potential of terrorists prepared to take their own lives.
And of course it’s possible that such groups have shared, or will share,
information and expertise with indigenous organisations and, thus, be
On the other hand many organisations and particular individuals do their
best to challenge the threat and try to combat it.
Political means. Although problematic, peace negotiations in Northern
Ireland have seen a halt to the spate of IRA bombings in the 1970s and
80s. Spain’s approach to ETA has been uncompromising. Part of the
strategy has been to ban ETA’s alleged political wing, Batasuna.
Anti-terrorist laws have been hardened with mandatory life sentences for
anyone convicted of serious terrorist offences.
Legal means. After 25 years of attacks in Greece, November 17 leaders
Alexandros Giotopoulos and Dimitris Koufodinas were among 15 sentenced
to life in December 2003.
Impact of September 11. Since the New York attacks, intelligence
monitoring of Islamic groups has been stepped up, as has co-operation
between European agencies. In Britain in particular controversial
legislation has been passed giving the police greater powers against
Practical means. September 11 has made Europe more twitchy and a greater
emphasis has been placed on protecting high-profile targets. In Britain,
this has included a mock gas attack on a tube station and the stepping
up of the ‘ring of steel’ security monitoring around London’s financial
It is very hard to decide whether terrorism can be unstoppable. But the
problem is very acute and gets a lot of attention. Hopefully by uniting
the efforts of the governments and its secret police services, NGOs and
each and every one of us this terror is going to stop one day.
1 Britain in Close-UP
2 BBC In Depth Spain/Northern Ireland
3 General European Council Information.
4 Center for Defense Information. www.cdi.org
5 The European Terrorism Review: July 2002.
7 The Economist. www.economist.com
9 Nexus magazine http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/hiddenterror.html
12 the Guardian Special Report Northern Ireland
13 Islamic terrorism in europe http://www.lbouza.net/INTERNAC/econ25.htm
15 CNN.com specials
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