February Today in Terrorism

February 23, 1984: Parliamentary candidate assassinated in Spain

On this day in 1984 a hooded gunman assassinated a Socialist candidate for the regional parliament, three days before the hotly contested Basque elections

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN – They say two wrongs don’t make a right: tell that to the terrorists.

There is an interesting phenomenon in Canada when it comes to the selection of senators. The Canadian Senate is an appointed body, unlike its American counterpart, and is not viewed that highly by most Canadians, despite its reputation as the ‘place of sober second thought’. This moniker was given it by our first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald, who felt it would be the body where legislation would receive proper, careful consideration before finally becoming law.

The senators may be ‘sober’ but that does not mean most Canadians think highly of the body. We tend to see it as a place to put those the government likes: in other words perks. This is not to say that some very fine citizens have not been honoured in this way but others, not so much.

We will pretend Lynn Beyak didn’t happen, shall we? (Photo: Chris Wattie / The Canadian Press)

Other countries – the US for example – elect their senators and their Senate is a very powerful body. As such, senators are seen as powerful and influential people. Hence highly valued terrorist targets.

On this day in 1984

A hooded gunman assassinated a Socialist candidate for the regional parliament, three days before the hotly contested Basque elections. The victim, Enrique Casas, was a nuclear physicist who sat in the national senate as well as the Basque parliament. The murder was believed to be the first of an election candidate in Spain since before the 1936-39 civil war.

A previously unknown group calling itself ‘Mendeku’ — meaning vengeance in the Basque language — took responsibility for the attack in telephone calls to media but police believed the group was a cover for the separatist group ETA. The attack might have been linked to ETA threats to retaliate for the assassinations by rightist hit squads of several of its members living in southern France.

ETA should know that this vile murder will not frighten us Socialists.

Socialist Party spokesman Pedro Bofill

I don’t see how killing a senator and wannabe MP makes up for the deaths at the hands of hit squads. Then again, I am not a terrorist.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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