Declassified CIA documents of 1984 suggest that Spain’s president at that time, Felipe González, gave the go-ahead to hire mercenaries to kill members of the armed group ETA. The report, available online on the website of the American intelligence agency, has sparked outrage among some Catalan and Basque parties.
“González has agreed to create a group of mercenaries, controlled by the Spanish army, to fight terrorists outside the law,” reportedly CIA in the 1984 paper. “The mercenaries would not necessarily be Spaniards and their mission would be killing the leaders of ETA in both Spain and France.”
During González’s term, death squads were created under the name GAL (Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación, or Antiterrorist Liberation Groups, in English) with the support of some officials in the Spanish home affairs ministry. Yet, the Socialist former president has for decades denied any involvement or knowledge of the GAL, ever since the death squads came to light three decades ago. The GAL was in operation from 1983 to 1987.
Indeed, the CIA report suggesting the attempt by González to form another discreet group also mentions the GAL. “The GAL, similar to the death squads considered by the government, has in fact been created in the south of France. The GAL has assassinated two known activists of ETA-M in the south of France and has kidnapped a Spanish businessman in Hendaya, of whom they suspected he collaborated with the terrorists.”