Spain’s new security strategy warns of growing cybercrime and Al Qaeda threats

The 83-page document attributes ETA’s defeat to “the strength of Spain’s democracy"

Miguel González

Spain’s latest National Security Strategy, approved by the government with the backing of the Socialist Party on Friday, concludes that the Basque armed terrorist group ETA no longer poses a violent threat, but warns that the biggest danger to the country now comes from Al Qaeda.

The 83-page document attributes ETA’s defeat to “the strength of Spain’s democracy, the solidity of its institutions, and the efficiency of its actions.”

But it continues: “Spain is also a target for Jihadist terrorism, and in particular from Al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb.” It warns that Spain’s relative proximity to unstable regions such as the Sahel, as well as the possible radicalization of immigrants, present a danger due to Spain’s “commitment to the fight against terrorism at home and abroad.”

The document warns of the risks from the Arab Spring, while recognizing that the main consequence of the revolts across North Africa and the Middle East “has been the election of democratic governments answerable to their voters.”

The document warns of the risks from the Arab Spring

On the subject of Western Sahara, which Spain abandoned in 1975 after which it was illegally occupied by Morocco, there were few changes in the document. “Spain supports a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution for all parts,” the national strategy stated.

Ceuta and Melilla, exclaves in Moroccan territory, and which are not protected by NATO through Spanish membership in the defense pact, will, says the report, remain part of Spain: “It is a strategic priority for Spain to maintain the preparedness and capacity to deal with those threats on its own.” On the other hand, Gibraltar is described as “an anomaly that presents Spain and Europe with security problems.”

The report also includes a clause that supports the notion by many Western nations that Iran’s nuclear program is not solely being developed for peaceful purposes.

Crisis and security

Spain will also have to be more vigilant in dealing with cybercrime. “Cyber attacks are now a powerful weapon against individuals and public and private institutions,” it says. These attacks come from “terrorist groups, organized criminal networks, business, and isolated individuals.” The report is particularly concerned with the internet, and warns against “the growing interference by individuals whose acts, such as leaking sensitive information […] could erode confidence in our institutions,” a clear allusion to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

In response, it calls for “the drawing up of legislation to protect classified information,” which will likely involve changes to the three-decade-old Official Secrets Act.

As well as warning that the country’s 10-percent immigrant population is in danger of being seen as a problem by the host population — in part due to policies denying migrants access to healthcare— the report says that the ongoing economic crisis “represents one of the biggest challenges for National Security.”

It recommends action against money laundering and tax evasion, as well as greater supervision of the financial system, including involving unions and civil society in “setting up a new framework for discussions about the labor market.”

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