THE BASQUE separatist group ETA has cells operating in Portugal, according to Europol.
According to the European vigilance and security group similar to Interpol, there has been an increase in ETA activities in Portugal in the past 12 months, particularly in the latter part of 2007.
ETA’s main aim, according to the specialist international police group, is to rent cars in Portugal for use in terrorist bombing campaigns.
The increase in ETA cell activities in Portugal was described as “unusual” but could be an “attempt to avoid detection by both Spanish and French police authorities”. However, Europol underlined the importance of cooperation between special anti-terrorist branches in Spain and Portugal and the creation of mixed Iberian investigative teams.
“We need to have a much tighter collaboration with Portugal,” said the director of the European agency, Max Peter Ratzel, at a press conference in Brussels where the report was presented last week.
Europol’s 2007 report on terrorist activities also indicated that ETA could be changing its recruitment methods and the types and manner in which explosives are used, as a way of avoiding traditional forms of control.
Ratzel revealed that bombs were a lot more ‘home made’, easier to assemble and using ordinary products found in drug stores and supermarkets.
He also said the group were issuing propaganda videos aimed at getting fresh recruits and that it was “dangerous” to imagine that ETA was somehow in a weak and disorganised state.
“What we can say is that ETA is simply changing its modus operandi to evade detection and try and keep ahead of the game with the authorities, although their base continues to be France rather than Portugal.”
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