A Job for Don Quixote; Spain Confronts ETA Terror

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 9, 2007 | Go to article overview

A Job for Don Quixote; Spain Confronts ETA Terror


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

MADRID - When most Americans hear the word Basque they think "terrorist." It's not quite fair, but that's what many Spaniards think, too. Basque terrorists kept their bargain for a ceasefire for nine months last year, but in December they detonated a car bomb in a parking garage at Madrid's Barajas International Airport, killing two and injuring dozens. Most Spaniards large majorities, by the polls blame not only the bombers, but the prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as well for his coddling the terrorists, for naively taking them at their word that they would negotiate honorably while keeping their arms.

A terrorist organization called Basque Fatherland and Liberty, or ETA for short, took responsibility for the car bomb. ETA is often compared to the Irish Republican Army, but the comparison is not exact. What the two organizations have held in common is their ability to kill without conscience. ETA is a leftist, separatist group that demands an independent Basque state carved from northern Spain and southwest France. The U.S. State Department lists it as a terrorist organization. ETA has killed 800 innocents over a 40-year campaign, including four killings over the last four years, and they wield political clout well beyond their numbers.

Most Spaniards hold Don Quixote, the famous tilter at windmills, as their comic ideal, but they regard ETA as real and dangerous. They are particularly angry about the prime minister's release from prison of an ETA terrorist convicted of 25 murders. Jose Ignacio De Juana Chaos no Don Quixote he was on a hunger strike when he was allowed to serve the final three years of his sentence in comfortable house arrest. The PM argued that this was better than transforming him to martyr in prison.

Terrorism, and the fear of it, has raised the temperature of the body politic despite an unusual chilly spring in Madrid. Debates and marches abound. So do reminders of past terrorist outrage. The government only last month dedicated an enormous glass memorial to the 191 slain and 1,800 injured at the Atocha railway station three years ago, and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were there, along with Mr. Zapatero, but it hardly mellowed public antagonism toward the party in power. The Atocha Station terrorists turned out to be Islamist terrorists, angry that Spanish troops were part of George W. …

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A Job for Don Quixote; Spain Confronts ETA Terror
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