There is a heightened presence by police on the streets of Madrid and across Spain. The increased numbers are the visible result of the government’s decision to raise the anti-terror alert. The action reflects growing fears of attacks by the armed Basque separatist group ETA, ahead of Madrid taking over the European Union Presidency on January 1st. The Spanish Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba explained the move.
“It is true that after four months without any terrorists attacks everyone tends to lower their guard a little and don’t consider that terrorists could be thinking of kidknap,” he said.
The security forces are now working on a medium anti-terror level, raised from low. The decision was also prompted by what the government called, ‘a persistent international terrorist threat,’ Critics have said the move is playing into the hands of the terrorists and that’s a point endorsed by Esteban Gonzalez of the opposition PP Party.
“It seems Monsieur Rubalcaba is nervous. He should relax, never before has a Minister for the Interior spoken out like this. Terrorists live off fear,” he stressed.
It was one year ago on New Years Eve that ETA claimed responsibility for a car bomb that exploded in front of the Basque TV station in Bilbao. In the last four decades ETA have killed more than 850 people using kidnapping as one of its main tactics to gain attention. Such statistics are a reminder of the terrorist threat.