Spain a transit point for Islamic terrorists: US

May 1st, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 1 (IANS) Spain is an important transit point and logistical base for terrorist organisations operating in western Europe, EFE news agency Thursday quoted a US State Department report as saying. “The government of Spain and its citizens were concerned that their country has been a principal target of Islamic extremism and acts of international terrorism,” said the document released here Wednesday.

Four years after the March 11, 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid, which left nearly 200 people dead, Spanish officials remain on high alert, the report said.

Spain “cooperated closely with the US to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism and to prevent future attacks, and worked hard to disrupt terrorist acts that possibly were directed against US interests.”

The document pointed out that Spain’s geographical proximity to north Africa and its relatively liberal rules for travel make the country “a strategic crossroad for international terrorist groups and an important staging point for North African extremists heading to Iraq to join the insurgency.”

The report praised Spain for taking effective measures to thwart possible terror activities in the country and also for carrying out an in-depth and comprehensive investigation, prosecution and trial on an issue of supreme national security and political importance.

“Spain has collaborated successfully with the governments of France and Portugal to further squeeze ETA from all sides and limit its room to manoeuvre,” the report said.

Spain arrested 47 terrorism suspects in 2007 and is currently holding 139 people in connection with such activities, some already convicted and others awaiting trial.

ETA has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its armed campaign to create an independent Basque state from parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

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