Victim protection and prevention are two key factors in the work carried out by the Spanish authorities
The Australian Leaders 2017 had a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation with Francisco de Miguel, Deputy Director of International Cooperation against Terrorism. Spain is considered a global benchmark in this field.
Having offered an overview of terrorist activity in Spain since the creation of ETA in 1958 until the present day, and of the development of Islamic terrorism in Spain and abroad, Mr de Miguel provided the Leaders with details on Spain’s fight against terrorism, which he described as a “national priority”.
The keys to the fight against terrorism in Spain lie, according to Mr de Miguel, in the defence of constitutional values (pluralism, democracy and human rights), the creation of appropriate legislation, the promotion of international cooperation and, lastly, the protection of victims of terrorism.
All of these ideas are in line with counter-terrorism policies in the EU, where there is “intense cooperation in the areas of justice and police work (Eurojust, Europol)”, as well as compliance with the UN's positions on the matter.
Spanish counter-terrorism policy was amended after the Madrid attacks in 2004, after which security on critical infrastructure was improved and coordination between public administrations and police departments, as well as with the institutions of other countries, was stepped up.
One of the aspects of the fight against terrorism which most impressed the Leaders was the area of prevention, especially Spain’s National Strategic Plan to Fight Violent Radicalisation (PEN-LCRV), which was approved in January 2015 with a view to identifying and neutralising potential radicalisation outbreaks through actions with high-risk groups and individuals. Among other goals, this plan seeks to integrate society values into religious education, especially in higher-risk neighbourhoods and cities.
Susan Windybank and Liam Nevill showed particular interest in the fight against propaganda by organisations such as DAESH, which conveys a poetic, adventurous image of terrorism in clear contrast with the 'normality' of life in Western societies, where many Muslims fail to fit in.
For Francisco de Miguel, on top of promoting internal dialogue within those communities, it is essential to establish development plans, 'to create other focuses of activity for young people' such as cultural and sports centres. One of the most important ideas to convey, according to the Deputy Director of International Cooperation against Terrorism, is the universal right to life, which also appears in the Quran. “Most of the victims of Islamic State these days are Muslims; that is something worth pointing out. The idea that terrorism threatens the life of Muslims is one of the pillars of this fight,” he concluded.