The assassination of Spanish Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973

Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.

On December 20, 1973, a team from the Basque separatist group ETA succeeded in assassinating the Spanish prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco. The course of action chosen by the separatists was a powerful explosive device planted under the road, this was defined then and in my opinion, will be defined as such today as groundbreaking and daring in the capabilities of an organized adversary.

Luis Carrero Blanco was considered a loyalist of the then President of Spain, Francisco Franco, who over the years appointed him to senior positions and even awarded him the rank of Admiral in 1966. In the years 1967-1973 Luis Carrero served as Vice President and was marked as the natural successor of Francisco Franco as President of Spain. In 1973 the post of Vice President was abolished and consequently, Luis Carrero was appointed President Franco’s prime minister. Luis Carrero was known for his extreme right-wing and monarchist views and so the Basques saw him as an heir who would continue Franco’s actions against the Basques and their independence.

Just before Luis Carrero took the presidency, the Basque separatists decided that the best way to prevent this was to assassinate the prime minister and the intended president. A group of Basque nationalists belonging to the ETA took on the task and as a first step decided to call the operation Operación Ogro (English: Operation Ogre). During the intelligence-gathering phase, they discovered that the prime minister frequently attends prayers at the five-story church of San Francisco de Borja and realized that this was a typical activity from which the assassination could be planned around. Aerial photograph showing the location of the church:

After deciding to assassinate the Prime Minister during his visit to the church, the assassins came up with possible courses of action to succeed in the important and critical task for them. The assassins thought about the close-range firing, medium-range firing, long-range sniping, explosive devices at the stopping point, and more, and finally concluded that due to the prime minister’s security level, the chances of success in these ways will below. To succeed in the mission, the assassins were required to think outside the box and so they did – the chosen course of action was to bury a powerful explosive device under the road on the necessary axis on which the prime minister travels when arriving and leaving the church.

The plan of action as carried out by the assassins:

The assassins located a rented basement apartment in a building located in the block of the church and in line with its facade. The assassins rented the apartment after telling the landlord that they were sculpture students and they indeed brought sculptures to the apartment to actualize the cover story. Over the course of five months, the assassins dug a tunnel under the necessary axis from the basement apartment to the front of the church while they managed to perfectly hide their actions from the landlord, neighbors, and their surroundings. After the excavation of the tunnel was completed, the assassins began to bring into the apartment and from there into the tunnel a powerful explosive device weighing 80 kilos that were stolen from a police checkpoint.

A video describing the actions of the assassination squad:

Day of the assassination on December 20, 1973:

The assassins armed the explosive device and verified that it was ready to activate. Three members of the group disguised themselves as electricians performing work on the street of the church so that none of the citizens and security guards of the prime minister suspected them. The three “electricians” were positioned so that they could clearly see the prime minister’s vehicle coming on the necessary axis to the church. At 09:36, the assassination squad’s observer identified the prime minister’s Dodge 3700 GT vehicle traveling towards the church and approaching a point on the road where it was above the location of the explosive device. With precise timing, the observer signals to his teammate to activate the powerful charge and he obeys the order immediately and a second later a loud explosion is heard in the street and the neighborhood. As a result of the explosion, Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco’s vehicle flew through the air to a height of 20 meters, over the five floors of the church, and plunged into the churchyard.

Presentation of the moment of the explosion from a film released in 1979:

Surprisingly, Luis Carrero Blanco survived the blast, was rushed to a hospital for medical treatment and died at 10:15 p.m. His bodyguard and driver died shortly after. The “electrician” assassins shouted at passers-by that there was a gas explosion and immediately fled the scene. The ETA took responsibility on January 22, 1974.

An authentic video documenting the arrival of the rescue forces at the scene of the incident:


Event scene photos:







How can one deal with such an action of the opponent?

Every close protection array should try and reduce as many as possible activities that repeat themselves frequently and subsequently every frequent facility and activity that the principal visits or does should be identified.

At each arrival or departure from a permanent facility or a repeated activity, it is necessary to establish a professional and effective intelligence circle that can detect changes in the threat environment such as the rental of an apartment to new students. Following the identification of a change by the intelligence, a physical examination of the new tenants will be carried out.

Upon arrival or departure from a permanent facility or printer activity, the security system must perform professional actions to detect anomalies in the threat sector and check anyone who is defined as new and unfamiliar in the sector such as electricians working on the street and also the array should break routines and deceive when it comes to the principal’s arrival and departure routes.

Remember that “security must be maintained” while ensuring that all required actions are performed.


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