This latest blow to ETA threatens to be a final for the leadership which has seen six key members imprisoned in the past two years.
The arrest of Ibon Gogeascoetxea in Cahan, Normandy has dealt a potentially devastating blow to the Basque separatist organization ETA. Gogeascoetxea assumed control of the terrorists with his younger brother Eneko after the arrest in May 2008 of the last leader, Francisco Javier Lopez Pena, in Bordeaux.
Gogeascoetxea, aged forty-five, was caught in a stolen car carrying explosives, false documents, three handguns and computers with two other ETA figures, Gregorio Jimenez Morales, implicated in a plot to buy missiles to shoot down a plane carrying the Spanish prime minister, and a doctor, Benat Aguinagalde, accused of complicity in two murders. All three were fugitives well known to the Guardia Civile’s intelligence branch. Gogeascoetxea himself had fled to France in 1997 after a failed attempt to assassinate King Carlos at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
These arrests follow the detention of some 32 ETA suspects in Spain and the seizure of 4,400 pounds of explosives over the past two months, and have brought the terrorists to the brink of collapse. Clearly, accumulated intelligence brought the Spanish and French authorities to the tiny village of Cahan, and this latest blow to ETA threatens to be a final for the leadership which has seen six key members imprisoned in the past two years.
An estimated 800 people have been killed during ETA’s campaign over the last fifty years, but decapitation of the leadership may destroy the terrorists.