Terrorist Organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) Essay

Terrorist Organization: Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) Essay


A terrorist organization can be defined as a political group that aims at attaining its objectives using terrorist activities (Bew and Frampton 48). Terrorist organizations use violence or a perceived threat of violence directed at civilians in order to achieve political agendas. In most cases, acts of terrorism are initiated using intimidation and instilling fear in public. The Basque region located in Spain, where Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) is based, is characterized by increasing cases of civil unrest with most of the local groups looking for independence from Spain. Basque has its own cultural norms and language that is considerably different from that of Spain (Yonah and Swetnam 145).

ETA is considered a separatist and nationalist terrorist organization, which was established during 1959. Since its inception, the group has revolutionized the nature of its activities from advocating for the traditional culture of Basque towards involvement in paramilitary activities with the principal objective of attaining the independence of the Greater Basque Country from Spain (Rudolf and Anissah 74). ETA played a significant role in the Basque Conflict. In addition, ETA has declared numerous ceasefires during 1989, 1996, 1998, and 2006 (Bew and Frampton 147). A new ceasefire that is still in force was declared during September 2010.

The ETA later announced its plans to stop its paramilitary activities during October 2010. Since its inception, ETA has been held accountable for approximately 830 people and being involved in numerous kidnappings and injury to the public. ETA is a designated terrorist group in Spain and France and the larger European Union. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the context, aims, strategy, theory, and outcomes of ETA.

History and structure of ETA

ETA was formed from a union of students known as Ekin, which was established during the early years of the 1950s. ETA was officially established on 31 July 1959 designated as Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, translated as Basque Homeland and Freedom. The long-established Basque Party has been viewed as a party characterized by moderate nationalism that has made considerable advancements towards nationalist activities (Rudolf and Anissah 158). The emergence of ETA can be significantly attributed to long durations of dictatorship under Franco in conjunction with the second phase of industrialization that resulted in increasing immigrant numbers in Spain.

For such a small group, it was difficult to achieve these objectives, which in turn resulted in increased frustrations by the students to form the modern day ETA, which mainly operates based on the political ideologies from Marxists perspective. The focus of the ETA was the formation of a self-governing homeland for the people of Basque (Yonah and Swetnam 89). The principal demand for the ETA included national self-determination for the people of Basque Country, the Union of the Province of Navarre, and the discharge of the ETA terrorists that are incarcerated (Yonah and Swetnam 96).

ETA is considered as a typical western terrorist group that comprises of hardcore activists of about 20 in every 100 supporters. The terrorist group operates under the customary sufficient units as a western terrorist organization that draws on Marxist’s political ideologies (Rudolf and Anissah 100). This results in complexity in its structure, making it difficult for authorities to access and penetrate the organizations. The group has its head operations in Basque, although the group has its units in Cuba, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Italy, and Algeria. Recent terrorist activities have been undertaken in France and Latin America (Rudolf and Anissa, 256).

The funding for the ETA originates from the conventional sources of income for terrorist organizations such as drug trafficking, violent crimes such as robberies, and public extortion. The methods for initiating terrorist activities by ETA include the shooting of government personnel, bombings, and guerilla attacks (Yonah and Swetnam 145). For instance, the ETA is responsible for the murder of Admiral Blanco in 1973. During 1980, the terrorist group committed 118 murder cases that were considered bloody in the history of the murders committed by the organization.

The organization of the ETA and popular support

Terrorist groups are comparatively small in comparison with guerilla rebellions. In order to approximate the size accurately and of ETA, it is important to differentiate the hardcore members of the group, who constitute the leadership positions and the commandos, and the eccentric circle that comprises of people who are connected to the organization and facilitate in undertaking tasks such as intelligence gathering, crossing the national borders and housing operations. In the context of ETA, it is estimated 20 percent of the members are hardcore activists, which translates to less than 500 individuals for the organization (Rudolf and Anissah 88).

According to estimates for 1978, 300 members out of 350 were hardcore members. It is during this year that murders undertaken by the organizations increased significantly. The early 1980s saw a decline in the activists within the organization because of the incarceration of the members of the organization. This resulted in a reduction in the terrorist activities by the organization after its entire leadership was arrested during 1992. The present status of hardcore activists within the ETA is estimated to be below 100. The capacity of ETA to create a center of attention for new recruits to be hardcore activists serves as an explanation for the increased resilience of the organization (Rudolf and Anissah 102).

Nationalist terrorist groups attempt to gain penetration into society using diverse strategies. This implies that such terrorist groups are likely to diversify their resources beyond terrorist activities such as involvement in welfare provision. ETA has successfully managed to penetrate the society through the manipulation of social movements such as the environmentalist and anti-militarist (Bew and Frampton 89).

ETA significantly relies on personal networks for the recruitment of activists into the environment. The normal militant in ETA is considered as a person who is a relative to the member of the organization, and this increases the potential of becoming a member of the organization, especially if the individual has undergone state repression such as subjective incarceration and torture (Bew and Frampton 145). Street violence is a common mechanism that the ETA uses to develop hardcore activists to undertake terrorist activists. In the context of avoiding arrest, young people find themselves being hardcore members of the group.

It is difficult to analyze objectively the extent of popular support that the terrorist groups have. In addition, there are usually minimal indicators that can be used to access the extent of popular support for nationalist terrorist organizations like the ETA. Available database on assumptions reports that 10 % of the adult population in Basque support ETA, which translates to approximately 172000 individuals (Rudolf and Anissah 100). Popular support for ETA mainly constitutes minor populations that are adequate to classify ETA as a terrorist organization. In fact, popular support has attributed to its survival over time and resulted in the creation of a territorial network to facilitate the effective execution of its terrorist activities.

The strategy of ETA

Nationalist terrorism is primarily concerned with maintaining territory, while revolutionary terrorism primarily focuses on mobilization. The outcome of nationalist terrorism is the establishment of a new state in the country of dispute. In addition, the demands imposed by nationalist terrorist groups are open to discussion. Revolutionist terrorist organizations, on the other hand, cannot engage the state in discussions because their main objective is the demise of the state (Rudolf and Anissah 78). Mobilization is also evident with regard to nationalist terrorist organizations like the ETA, although it is mainly constrained within the limits of territorial goals in order to enhance the bargaining power of the terrorist groups. The ETA deploys the use of violence in order to engage in dialogue with the state under dispute.

The terrorist organizations usually rely on increasing the consequences of their activities so that the government can abandon the territory. The terrorist implications of the ETA are estimated to be approximately 10 % of the BAC Gross Domestic Product (Rudolf and Anissah 89). Terrorist activities are undertaken by the ETA also serve to impose significant political strains on Spain’s political system. The ETA long-term strategy has not been subject to change with the hope of outlasting the enemy in the end.


ETA is considered as one of the nationalist terrorist organizations that were established in most developed countries during the mid 20th century. The most puzzling aspect of the terrorist group is not regarding its origin, rather how it has managed to survive the times. Its survival can be attributed to cohesive supporters that comprise approximately 10 percent of the population of Basque County (Bew and Frampton 96). ETA has managed to establish a network that involves legal and illegal organizations. The ETA also owns a newspaper, a political party, and a union. The lethal activities of the ETA can be compared to other terrorist organizations in Europe.

Works cited

Bew, John and Matyn Frampton. Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country. London: Hurst & Co, 2010.

Rudolf, Rachael and Engeland Anissah. From terrorism to politics. New York: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2008.

Yonah, Alexander and Michael Swetnam. ETA: profile of a terrorist group. Paris: Transnational Publishers, 2001.

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