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Saturday, September 01, 2007

4 Suspected Members of Basque Group ETA Arrested in France

(Reuters Photo) Early Saturday in Southern France four suspected members of a Basque Group, ETA, were arrested in connection to the deadly Madrid Barajas airport car bomb in December as well as in a failed attack last week in Castellon, eastern Spain.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said:

"The four had a decisive participation in the attacks in Barajas and Castellon," he told a news conference, describing the Spanish-French police operation as having dealt a major blow to the armed group.

The Dec. 30 car bomb in the parking garage of Madrid airport's Terminal 4 building killed two people and led to the government ending peace talks with ETA.

The four suspects were all armed but offered no resistance when arrested around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) in Cahors, near Toulouse, in neighboring France, he said.

"It is an operation of an enormous importance," Perez Rubalcaba told a news conference.

Among those detained was Luis Ignacio Iruretagoyena, 50, an alleged ETA veteran who fled during the 1980s to Nicaragua, the minister said. It was unclear when or under what circumstances Iruretagoyena had returned to Europe.

"Iruretagoyena is considered by police to be the maximum expert in the making of bombs within ETA," the minister said.

For those unaware of what the ETA is:

the ETA is a terrorist organization, as defined by the European Union,the United States, and the United Nations, but considered by itself as a paramilitary Basque nationalist group.

Founded in 1959, it evolved rapidly from a group advocating traditional cultural ways to an armed group demanding Basque independence. Its ideology is Marxist-Leninist.

All formulations of ETA's goals have centered on sovereignty and self-determination for Euskal Herria (Basque Country and Navarra). ETA's motto in Basque-Euskera is "aizkora bezain zorrotza eta sugea bezain zuhurra" which translates in English as "sharp like an axe and quiet like a snake".

ETA has committed approximately 900 murders and dozens of kidnaps. More than 500 ETA militants are held in prison in Spain and France[citation needed].

ETA's goal, as stated in 1995 in their Democratic Alternative publication, is to force through violence a negotiation with Spain and France to agree on the following:

* Recognition of the right to "self-determination and territoriality" for Euskal Herria.

* That the Basque citizenry are the "unique subject" ("subject" in the sense of "one who acts") to make decisions about the future of the Basque Country.

* Amnesty for all militants, whether prisoners or self-imposed exiles.

* Respect for what ETA defines as "the results of the democratic process in the Basque Country".
* "Total ceasefire" once these points are guaranteed through a political agreement.

(AFP photo)"The house where the four were arrested was the operations base where they prepared and organized the main activities of the terrorist group ETA," the minister said.

The arrests bring to 26 those detained since ETA said on June 5 it was calling off a 15-month-old ceasefire, which the airport bomb had already effectively broken.

The Interior Ministry said the investigation remained open.

ETA has waged an armed campaign for independence for Basque territories in northern Spain and southern France for over 40 years, killing more than 800 people.

From USA Today:

The other suspects included Ander Mugica, 25, Alaitz Aramendi Jaunarena, 29, and Oihan Barandalla, 31. The interior minister described Barandalla as ETA's military deputy, and said Mugica had fled a police checkpoint in eastern Spain in July by jumping out of a taxi and leaving a bag of explosives behind.

The minister said the four suspects had been planning new attacks, and were found living in a house that also served as an explosives laboratory.

"They were preparing a new car bomb," Perez Rubalcaba said.

A French police official confirmed that a raid by anti-terror police had resulted in the discovery and dismantling of what appeared to have been an explosives lab in Cahors, and the arrest of three men and a woman.

To only go after the helpless and the civilian is a cowards game and I hope they give these folks, if convicted the harshest of penalties.

I will bring updates as they come out...

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