End of an ETA

The Basque militant group officially declared a permanent ceasefire today, perhaps bringing an end to a 50-year campaign that has claimed more than 800 lives. The announcement didn’t get all that much attention in the U.S., where ETA tends to get lumped in with Greek Anarchists as quaint relics of a more violent era of ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The Basque militant group officially declared a permanent ceasefire today, perhaps bringing an end to a 50-year campaign that has claimed more than 800 lives. The announcement didn't get all that much attention in the U.S., where ETA tends to get lumped in with Greek Anarchists as quaint relics of a more violent era of European politics. While they were a force to be reckoned with in the '70s and '80s, these days, Europe faces a much more pressing threat from radical Islamist groups, rather than delusional nationalists in balaclavas, right?

Actually, no, according to the EU's latest data. The Vancouver Sun's Dan Gardner reports

The European Union's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 states that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed attacks" in six European countries. This was down almost one-third from the total in 2008 and down by almost one-half from the total in 2007.

The Basque militant group officially declared a permanent ceasefire today, perhaps bringing an end to a 50-year campaign that has claimed more than 800 lives. The announcement didn’t get all that much attention in the U.S., where ETA tends to get lumped in with Greek Anarchists as quaint relics of a more violent era of European politics. While they were a force to be reckoned with in the ’70s and ’80s, these days, Europe faces a much more pressing threat from radical Islamist groups, rather than delusional nationalists in balaclavas, right?

Actually, no, according to the EU’s latest data. The Vancouver Sun‘s Dan Gardner reports

The European Union’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 states that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed attacks" in six European countries. This was down almost one-third from the total in 2008 and down by almost one-half from the total in 2007.

So in most of Europe, there was no terrorism. And where there was terrorism, the trend line pointed down.

As for who’s responsible, forget Islamists. The overwhelming majority of the attacks — 237 of 294 — were carried out by separatist groups, such as the Basque ETA. A further 40 terrorists schemes were pinned on leftist and/or anarchist terrorists. Rightists were responsible for four attacks. Single-issue groups were behind two attacks, while responsibility for a further 10 was not clear.

Islamists? They were behind a grand total of one attack. Yes, one. Out of 294 attacks. In a population of half a billion people. To put that in perspective, the same number of attacks was committed by the Comite d’Action Viticole, a French group that wants to stop the importation of foreign wine.

Here’s the report.

To be sure, the numbers are a bit misleading in that Islamist terrorists tend to carry out attacks on a somewhat grander scale — Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, the recent Stockholm suicide attack if it had worked — than ETA, even in its heyday. (The maniacal viciousness of French wine snobs is another story.)

But still, during a week when we’ve been reminded that political violence can strike anywhere, good riddance to Basque militancy. Perhaps they finally took a look at the far more effective revolution happening in Catalonia

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.