MADRID – The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), based in The Hague, is including Spain in an investigation into the links between the right-wing and the armed forces in a dozen European countries.
In the eyes of the ICCT researchers, Spain appears to be one of the European states where the “presence of right-wing extremists in the armed forces” has been registered. The list also includes Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, United States, and Canada.
“This research work aims to investigate the nature of the link between right-wing extremism and the military”. This was explained by the Dutch organisation. To this end, the document focuses on several “problem areas” derived from the “presence of right-wing extremists” in the armed forces of these twelve Western countries.
The report emphasises that the “recent high-profile incidents in several Western countries have raised public fears of a possible extremist threat emanating from the armed forces”. However, it clarifies that “the nature of these incidents is very different”.
In some cases, it involved “terrorist plots”, while in others “the presentation of far-right symbols by military personnel” was used. That suggests that “the link between the far right and the military can manifest itself in several ways”.
In the case of Spain, the document highlights that “members of the Spanish paratrooper’s brigade BRIPAC gave a fascist salute while singing a song about a Spanish military unit that fought with the Wehrmacht during World War II.”
The case cited by the ICCT was registered in Paracuellos de Jarama on December 8, 2019. Soldiers took advantage of the Immaculate Conception Day celebrations to sing the verses of Primavera. This is a song by the neo-Nazi group Estirpe Imperial. Furthermore, it pays tribute to the Spaniards who were part of the Blue Division.
The government responsed to a parliamentary question from the Deputy of EH Bildu Jon Iñarritu. Moreover, they indicatedthat in that case “two disci plinary proceedings were initiated. Furthermore, this ended with three sanctions disciplinary measures”. However, he declined to provide more information about this.
Threats via WhatsApp
The Dutch organisation also includes another example of extreme right-wing glorification in the Spanish military sphere. The ICCT report recalls that in 2020 “a manifesto was published criticising the Social Communist government for endangering the unity of Spain”.
26 million Spaniards
The document states that “the signatories are all ex-officers”. However, it notes that “in early 2021 it became clear that the position in question also had some support among active members of the military”. Furthermore, “a group of military reservists” is said to have sent warnings in a WhatsApp chat. Seemingly one message said that “the only way to prevent Spain from falling apart was to kill 26 million Spaniards”. This is according to reports from the Infolibre newspaper in December 2020.
Start research into right-wing extremism in the Spanish army
Those statements were made by Francisco Beca Casanova, a former Air Force division general. Moreover, he made no secret of his sympathy for Vox. “The news about that chat prompted the Spanish government to launch an investigation into right-wing extremism in the Spanish army,” the ICCT investigation emphasises.
A few weeks after this case became known, the provincial prosecutor’s office of Madrid closed the investigation into the threats from that WhatsApp group. Furthermore, according to the judge, no hate crimes were registered there.
“In general, the nature of the link between right-wing extremism and the military is very different between the countries in our study,” says the ICCT. Furthermore, it labels Germany and the United States as “the most affected”. Moreover, it warns “the worst possible scenarios” that could arise from those ties to the far-right “have not yet materialised”.
Framework for greater understanding of risks and implications
“Mapping this threat serves as a basis for informing political leaders about the different scenarios. And, furthermore, about the right responses to counter right-wing extremism within the military,” the promoters emphasise. Indeed, the report aims to “provide a much-needed framework for understanding the various risks and implications associated with this phenomenon”.