The ETA movement was founded in 1959 in an area of Northern Spain called The Basque Country. The Basque country is geographically located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain and the Bay of Biscay in France. The population of the region is between 2 and 2.5 million people.
ETA, abbreviation of Basque Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (“Basque Homeland and Liberty”)
The ETA movement itself was founded by a group of students at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, as a discussion group for those angered and frustrated by the Basque Nationalist Party’s moderate stance and soon evolved into an armed paramilitary group and believed “violence is justified in its pursuit”
The relationship between ETA and other Basque political parties is very much disputed and certainly not proven. The Basque nationalist party Batsuna, “has often been viewed as the political wing of ETA”.
ETA has no links to state terrorism, but does however have links to other terrorist organisations within Spain and abroad, “including the Irish Republican Army and Venezuela's Red Flag”. There are no known links to Al Qaeda. * Aims and Ideology
ETAs main strategic aim is for total independence for the greater Basque Country which had previously been repressed by General Franco. In 1959 when ETA wrote its founding charter, the group defines itself as “a patriotic, non-religious, non-political group with the goal of saving the Basque soul and the self-determination of our homeland’s destiny”
ETA was founded with an ideology based on a combination of “traditional Basque nationalism, revolutionary socialism and anti-colonialism”
The founding members of ETA took their ideological inspiration “from other third-world or non-aligned revolutionary independence movements” predominantly based on Marxism and Leninism. 1975 saw the death of General Franco and ETA became a “fierce opponent of democratisation” and increased its acts of terrorism in both Spain and abroad.
Leadership and Structure
ETA as an organization is very hierarchical based on a command structure of a small ‘executive committee’ with no official leader and a number of sub branches that deal with all aspects of the organisation of the group. Over recent years it is believed that due to security compromises that there has been a number of reshuffles of the structure, however this has not affected the fundamentals of the group.
The executive committee at the top of the structure is believed to be sized at between seven and eleven members. Answering to the executive committee are eleven sub branches all with individual yet critical responsibilities of keeping the group active and capable to carry out its aims. The sub branches are; Logistics, Politics, International Relations, Military Operations, reserves, Prisons (prisoners), Extortion, Information, Recruitment and Finances. The members of the sub branches equate to around one hundred people.
The operations carried out by ETA i.e. the terrorist attacks, are carried out by small groups of around three to five ‘commandos’ each of which are given a small geographic area of interest of which to operate within. These groups are usually self-sufficient and operate independently of the rest of the organisation, this has proved to protect ETA as a whole along with its hierarchy against any of its members giving away too much information and intelligence when they have been caught by the authorities.
There are possibly hundreds or even thousands of the Basque population that support the aims and ideologies of ETA and support them in numerous ways, including financial payments and even the keeping of underground hide outs or safe houses.
The majority of the members of the group were young males that were only ‘activated’ as and when an action or operation was to be carried out, the rest of the time they just carried on with their normal lives
There have been many leaders and key members of ETA, the following short