Anti-Terrorist Liberation Group (GAL) (Spain)

Country: Spain
Details of Formation: The group announced its existence in December 1983, having been set up by two brothers linked to anti-ETA activity since 1979. Those linked to the brothers were in the 1960s members of the Secret Army Organisation (OAS) who fought against Algerian independence.
Details of Termination: The PGM was terminated in 1987 when France agreed to deport ETA activists.
Purpose: The main purpose of the group was to fight Basque separatists, mainly targeting ETA, without being linked to the formal state institutions.
Organisation: The group was financed by secret funds from the Interior Ministry, had suspected ties to the police and security forces and was supported by the military intelligence service. Convicted members of the group’s leadership included various government, police or military officials, such as José Barrionuevo, Rafael Vera, Ricardo García Damborenea, Francisco Álvarez, Miguel Planchuelo, José Amedo Fouce,
Julián Sancristóbal, and General Enrique Rodríguez Galindo.
Weapons and Training: --
Size: --
Reason for Membership: According to experts, some members joined based on their own political convictions, i.e. because they did not think official policy against the ETA went far enough.
Treatment of Civilians: GAL injured civilians, assassinated and killed individuals suspected to be connected to ETA, and was responsible for kidnappings and torture. According to various sources, 23 - 28 people (presumed Basque separatists) died as a result of attacks perpetrated by the group.
Other Information: GAL targeted ETA members in retaliation for ETA violence. In 1984, the Spanish government denied involvement in the group, while some individuals privately admitted being involved in 1986. A court case investigated whether there was a link between the socialist government and the group in 1987. A Supreme Court trial in 1996 found no evidence linking Prime Minister Gonzáles to the PGM, but in 1995 former security chiefs revealed the involvement of the Deputy Prime Minister and the former Interior Minister. In 1994, three former security chiefs were formally accused of being involved and two Spanish police officers were arrested for hiring mercenaries to carry out murders in the 1980s. Some of those arrested for activities connected to the GAL were bribed by the government to keep silent and a report accused the Gonzáles government of obstructing investigations into the events. The group’s headquarters is believed to have been located in Aix-en-Provence.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.

Human Rights Watch. 2005. “Setting an Example? Counter-Terrorism Measures in Spain.” Jan 26, 2005.

Wikipedia. “GAL (paramilitary group).”