Basque terrorists active in Central America, Arab lands
The Basque terrorist organization ETA has long been suspected of having close ties to other European terrorist groups as well as connections with Latin American countries and Arab guerrilla training camps.
Suspicions were confirmed in a detailed study financed by Spain's Interior Ministry. The study documents ETA's international activities, which run from financing revolutionary armies in Central America to training European terrorists such as the German Baader-Meinhof group and the Italian left-wing group First Line.
The confidential report is based on information from Spanish antiterrorist teams, Western secret services, police reports from various countries, information from Central American governments, and direct testimony from ''repentant members of the separatist organization, in exchange for shorter terms and possibilities of what is termed 'social reinsertion.' ''
The document, leaked to Spain's leading daily El Pais, claimed that an ETA commando arrived in El Salvador last year ''with the proposition of assassinating the defense minister.'' The Basque separatist group delivered $250 ,000 to the People's Revolutionary Army of El Salvador as well as arms and documents.
The hard-line military branch of ETA established ''offices for the falsification of documents'' in Nicaragua, according to the report. The document lists the names of ETA militants who lead the Nicaraguan and Central American operations. ETA activities in Mexico, Venezuela, and Costa Rica are also described.
The ETA's international vocation began in Cuban training camps in 1964, the report said. Formal international connections began with the Tricontinental Solidarity Conference in Havana in 1966, which opened the door to Algerian training bases and Chinese Communist financial support.
ETA began training in Algeria, in the police school of Souma in January 1976, the report claims. Two other courses were held before Algerian authorities denied use of their territory. But contacts with the Palestine Liberation Front allowed training to continue in Lebanon in 1979. In South Yemen ETA guerrillas were also trained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Although some contact with other Europeans had been made earlier in Cuba and Algeria, the first summit between ETA and the illegal Irish Republican Army took place in 1972, according to the report. Four ETA members were sent to Ulster and a permanent representative in Ireland was maintained by ETA.
The first contact between ETA and the Italian revolutionary group First Line took place in June 1978: An agreement was made to train Italian militants in French-Spanish zones, according to testimony of First Line members in Italy quoted in the report.