Formed in 1975 as the armed wing of the illegal Communist Party of Spain during the Franco era. Advocates the overthrow of the Spanish Government and its replacement with a Marxist-Leninist regime. GRAPO is vehemently anti-US, seeks the removal of all US military forces from Spanish territory, and has conducted and attempted several attacks against US targets since 1977. The group issued a communique following the 11 September attacks in the United States, expressing its satisfaction that “symbols of imperialist power” were decimated and affirming that “the war” has only just begun.
GRAPO did not mount a successful terrorist attack in 2002. GRAPO has killed more than 90 persons and injured more than 200. The group’s operations traditionally have been designed to cause material damage and gain publicity rather than inflict casualties, but the terrorists have conducted lethal bombings and close-range assassinations. In May 2000, the group killed two security guards during a botched armed robbery attempt of an armored truck carrying an estimated $2 million, and in November 2000, members assassinated a Spanish policeman in a possible reprisal for the arrest that month of several GRAPO leaders in France. The group also has bombed business and official sites, employment agencies, and the Madrid headquarters of the ruling Popular Party.
Fewer than two-dozen activists remaining. Police have made periodic large-scale arrests of GRAPO members, crippling the organization and forcing it into lengthy rebuilding periods. In 2002, Spanish and French authorities arrested 22 suspected members, including some of the group’s reconstituted leadership.