Spain, after having suffered the scourge of terrorism for many years, has developed an effective counter-terrorism approach that has helped reduce the domestic threat of terrorism while fully respecting due legal process and individual rights. Spain is also firmly committed to contributing to global counter-terrorism efforts and to sharing its counter-terrorism expertise. That is why Spain has been an active member of the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh since it was formed in 2014, participating in its Small Group of leading Coalition partners, and its various Working Groups.
Spain believes that defeating Daesh requires a comprehensive approach, not solely based on military means, but one which also considers other key aspects of counter-terrorism and that focuses on medium and long-term strategies. Spain has no doubt that the Coalition is the best tool to defeat and destroy Daesh, contributing to its efforts in the following ways.
The Military Effort
Spain is making an important contribution to the Coalition’s military efforts by training Iraqi forces. It has deployed nearly 500 military personnel to Baghdad, Besmayah and Taji for that purpose. Through the “Building Partner Capacity” at Besmayah and Taji, including the “Special Operations Task Groups” in Bagdad and Taji, Spanish forces have trained around 37,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Spain firmly believes that unified, well trained Iraqi armed forces are essential to defeating Daesh. This mission is a long and challenging task; hence Spain is fully committed to a long-term engagement with the Iraqi people in support of this objective.
Spain is a member of the Global Coalition’s Working Group to counter Daesh’s financing. Through this group, Spain shares its valuable, decades-long expertise in tackling terrorist financing with the Coalition. Spain believes it is critical to stem the flow of cash to Daesh as well as to eliminate the terrorist group’s revenue from oil. As part of this effort, UN Security Council Resolution 2253 addressing terrorist financing must be effectively implemented. Countries should adapt their legal framework to prevent any activity related to financing terrorism.
In line with this, Spain has adopted and implemented far-reaching legal measures to cut off terrorists’ cash flows. This has been widely praised by Spain’s international partners, such as the Financial Action Task Force. In 2015, Spain also modified its Criminal Code to better tackle the financing of terrorism.
Foreign Terrorist Fighters
Although not a new phenomenon, foreign terrorist fighters are one of Daesh’s distinctive features and account for over 30 percent of its forces. Tackling the flow of foreign terrorist fighters travelling to Iraq and Syria requires a strategy involving both origin and transit countries.
Spain, which has a relatively low number of foreign fighters, participates in the Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, providing the group helpful expertise based on Spain’s close co-operation with third countries, such as Morocco. In line with Spain’s commitment to implement an effective framework to tackle this phenomenon, the Spanish Parliament passed amendments to Spain’s Criminal Code to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 on preventing travel and support for foreign terrorist fighters. Under Spanish Law, fighting abroad on behalf of groups considered to be undertaking terrorist activity is now considered a crime of terrorism.