Using the picture below, identify Spain, and on a separate piece of paper to be turned into the basket on my desk, explain why its proximity to Northern Africa make it a central location for the world anti-terror summit and a prime target for terrorists.
The Government of Spain and its citizens were concerned that their country remained a principal target of domestic terrorism and Islamic extremism. On the international front, al-Qa'ida (AQ) deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leaders of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) routinely called for the recapture of the former Muslim-controlled region in the Iberian Peninsula they still call al-Andalus. As the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings approached, the Spanish government remained in a constant state of heightened alert and took pride in the fact that there have been no further deaths in Spain at the hands of international terrorists since 2004. Spain cooperated closely with the United States to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism and to prevent future attacks, and worked hard to disrupt terrorist acts that possibly were directed against U.S. interests.
Spain remained an important transit and logistical base for terrorist organizations operating in Western Europe. Its geographical location, large population of immigrants from North Africa, and the ease of travel to other countries in Europe, made Spain a strategic crossroads for international terrorist groups.
Spain continued to aggressively target terrorist recruiters and facilitators. The Ministry of Interior detained 65 suspected Islamist terrorists. Many of these individuals were believed to be supporters of terrorist groups such as AQ, AQIM, and the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group (GICM).
The Spanish government began 2008 with the January 19 arrest of 14 suspected radical Islamists, primarily Pakistanis, in Barcelona, who allegedly were plotting to attack the city's transportation system. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorist group, which has links to AQ, claimed that those arrested were part of its organization and that the attacks had been planned to retaliate against the Spanish military presence in Afghanistan. In June, Spanish police arrested eight Algerian nationals on charges of suspicious activities with links to terrorist cells, including recruiting and indoctrination, as well as providing financial and logistical support to Islamic terrorist organizations. In October, security services arrested a dozen radical Islamist suspects, all Moroccan nationals, accused of financing terrorism and of sending recruits to Iraq. Some members of the cell were also accused of helping some of the suspects in the Madrid train bombings flee the country. All were subsequently set free, except for four individuals already in prison on other charges.
The domestic terrorist group Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), whose aim is to create an independent Basque state, waged its deadliest year since 2004:
On March 7, on the eve of Spain's national election, ETA gunmen murdered a former town councilman in Mondragon
On May 14, an ETA truck bomb detonated at a barracks in Legutiano killed a Civil Guard
On September 22, a car bomb detonated at a military academy in Santona, killing a corporal in the Spanish army.
On December 3, the fourth victim, a Basque businessman, was shot by ETA gunmen.
Nevertheless, Spain's intensified cooperation with the French government put considerable pressure on ETA. Joint operations in France resulted in, among other successes, the detention of ETA's alleged political leader in May, and its alleged military chief who reportedly was also the number-one authority in ETA, in November. On December 9, a joint operation resulted in the arrest of the alleged replacement military chief. All three arrests occurred in France with the participation of Spanish security forces. As of mid December, security services had arrested 158 alleged ETA members or associates, including 33 in France.
In the judicial arena, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the convictions of several radical Islamists from two previous, high-profile cases.
In July the Spanish Supreme Court announced the acquittal on appeal of four of the 21 convicted defendants in the Madrid train bombings trial who had been sentenced in October 2007. The four had been sentenced to between five and 12 years for smuggling explosives and membership in a terrorist organization.
The Supreme Court also upheld the lower court's acquittal of the suspected mastermind of the attacks, agreeing with the lower court's decision that he be acquitted of belonging to a terrorist organization because he had already been sentenced in Italy and could not be tried for the same crime twice.
In October, the Supreme Court overturned 14 of the 20 convictions of a cell sentenced in February for plotting to truck bomb the National Court and reduced the sentences of another four of those convicted in the plot.
Spain participated in the Megaports and Container Security Initiatives, and worked hard to deny terrorists access to Spanish financial institutions. Spain maintained a robust law enforcement and intelligence posture against terrorist financing. Spain was a member of the G8 Counterterrorism Action Group and provided technical assistance to other countries to help build their institutions to counter terrorist financing. Spain is a longtime member of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force and its efforts to combat money laundering were considered comprehensive and effective. However, Spain has not frozen the assets of or designated as a terrorist Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the convicted and jailed leader of the Madrid-based AQ-affiliated cell who was detained shortly after 9/11.
Spain played an active role in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism; it hosted a table-top exercise in May, a plenary meeting in June, and a field training exercise in October. These events developed Spain's own expertise in disaster preparedness and contingency planning and served to build the capacity of fellow Global Initiative partner nations.
Spain also signed numerous multilateral agreements to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation on a political level. In May, the Ministers of Interior from Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia agreed to strengthen their exchange of information to prevent anybody accused of a terrorist crime from finding shelter in those countries.
On a bilateral level, Spain signed agreements with Morocco and Algeria. In June, the Spanish and Moroccan General Prosecutors Offices signed an International Protocol of Cooperation to fight terrorism and organized crime. Also in June, Spain and Algeria signed a bilateral Agreement on Security to Fight Terrorism, Illegal Immigration, and Organized Crime, which includes the exchange of information.
Spain contributed more than 750 troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
As a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Spain continued to comply with requirements in the VWP law related to information sharing and other law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation. This cooperation was further enhanced by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.
At the end of this unit, we will be watching the movie "Vantage Point". To prepare for this movie, we will form predictions about what we will think happen using the information gleaned from the trailer.
Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment