In the Spotlight: First of
October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO)
The First of
October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO) arose during the Franco era. The group was founded in the summer of 1975 as
the military wing of the banned Reconstituted Communist Party of Spain
(PCE-r). GRAPO members promote the
establishment of a Marxist-Lenin government.
Maoist influences are also apparent in their political thinking. The group’s mission includes uprooting
American military forces from Spanish territory, hindering Spain’s
membership in NATO, and installing its own government in the country.
founder, Juan Carlos Delgado de Codex, died in a shoot-out with police in 1979
and was replaced by Manuel Perez Martinez.
a Manila-born secretary general of the PCE-r, led the group through the next
three decades. Although GRAPO lacks the popular support of other terrorist
organizations in Spain
(such as the Basque Fatherland and Liberty
or ETA), it still remains a threat to the Spanish government and the United
GRAPO’s first action as a terrorist organization occurred
on Aug. 2,
1975, when it murdered two members of the Spanish
Civil Guard. Later, in October the same year, it killed four policemen in
in retaliation for the police execution of two associates of ETA and three of
the People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces. Though GRAPO did not claim
responsibility for the killings until 1976, its willingness to cooperate with
ideologically similar organizations bolstered its livelihood. Throughout
its 30-year history, authorities discovered links between GRAPO and other
terrorist organizations, including the German Red Army Faction, the Red
Brigades, and Irish Republican terrorists.
1980s and 1990s, GRAPO launched frequent and erratic robbery attempts an effort
to fund their operations. In addition, the group planted bombs at certain
in efforts to influence key economic and social decisions. Targets included French and American firms,
as well as the headquarters of Spain’s
Popular Party, the U.S. Cultural Center in Madrid,
the Madrid Stock Exchange, the Economic Ministry and the Constitutional
Court. GRAPO also conducted
kidnappings and assassinations in order to exert political pressure on what it
considered ‘fascist’ governments. In its pursuit of funds and political
power, it killed more than 90 persons and injured 200. The dead included
the president of the Seville Association of Businessmen, the Director of Penal
Institutions, Spanish military officers, and Spanish citizens. The case
of Publio Cordon, a businessman kidnapped on June 27, 1995,
gained particular notoriety. Despite his
family paying the ransom demanded by GRAPO for his return, Cordon was never
In May 2000,
GRAPO members murdered two security officers in an unsuccessful attempt to raid
an armed truck carrying $2 million dollars. Following the robbery
attempt, on Nov. 9, 2000, seven suspected GRAPO affiliates, including the
leader, Manuel Perez Martinez, the head of its Central Command Operations, Jose
Felipe Lopez, and its head of Military Networks, Fernando Silva Sande, were detained by police in Paris, France. During
the arrest, investigators discovered 70 detonators, a
remote control improvised explosive device, counterfeit papers, and
recovered slowly from the loss of its leaders until 2002, when Spanish and
French law enforcement arrested 22 more suspected members. This delivered a
severe blow to GRAPO numbers. In addition, in 2004, some 24 people were
indicted on charges of belonging to the organization, including some who had
already served long prison sentences. Currently,
the group is estimated to comprise around two dozen active members.
Though GRAPO’s numbers receded, former members continue to capture
public attention. Sabastian
Rodriguez, former GRAPO activist and currently a paraplegic swimmer,
won a gold medal in the Athens Paralymics. Rodriguez’s leg problems developed after a
432-day hunger strike in an effort to influence the Spanish government’s
refusal to release other GRAPO members from jail. During his hunger strike, he
brought the Spanish government to court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent
prison authorities from keeping him alive.
Upon Rodriguez’s release from prison, he sold raffle tickets before
traveling to Sydney,
where he claimed to have lost his legs in a car accident. He won five gold medals.
GRAPO has failed to launch a successful terrorist attack. Possible reasons include difficulty locating
funds and falling membership. In
addition, in March 2003, the Spanish judicial system outlawed both PCE-r and
GRAPO, treating them as a single organization for the first time. However, though GRAPO suffered reductions, it
survived. It issued a statement
following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, lauding
the extremists efforts and congratulating the
destruction of “symbols of imperialist power.”
The group also proclaimed that, “the war has just begun.” Following
the statement, Dec. 5, 2001, then-U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell and the
attorney general designated GRAPO as a Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)
organization (along with 39 other groups) under section 212 of the Immigration
and Nationality Act. Under the auspices of the TEL, GRAPO members cannot
enter the United
States and will
suffer deportation if found within the country.
- Philip T. Reeker,
“Statement on the Designation of 39 Organizations on the USA PATRIOT Act’s
‘Terrorism Exclusion Act,’” Press Statement, Dec. 6, 2001.
- “Spanish Terror Suspected
Arrested.” CNN, Nov. 9, 2000.
- U.S. State Department, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001-2003.
- Translation of an Interview of
the GRAPO, Resistencia,
- Giles Tremlett,
“Paralymic Star is a Former Terrorist.” The Guardian, Sept. 22, 2004.