|ANOTHER SPIKE IN DOMESTIC TERRORISM?|
|Sunday, 01 July 2012 09:52|
The pre-dawn attack occurred on June 27 and resulted in serious damage to the company building but caused no casualties. The terrorists drove a stolen van, carrying a detonator and cans full of gasoline, which they triggered outside the ground floor entrance after removing two security guards at gunpoint. The MO is familiar to anti-terrorist branch officers, who also reportedly said that the blast appeared to be a "test run" that would perhaps lead to other, bigger attacks.
The Microsoft incident is only the latest in a long string of terrorist acts that has haunted Greece since 1974. Greek authorities have a spotty record when it comes to a consistent counter-terror strategy -- and they have been often accused of not doing enough to pursue those who choose the road of political violence in this country.
There are many theories concerning the exact nature of Greek domestic terrorism. Some claim that the various groups which have appeared over the years have sprung from the same "bedrock" organization evolving over time. Others insist that domestic terrorism is foreign-instigated and yet others see Greek terrorists as provocateurs working for the police. The disruption in 2002-2003 of the active cell of the 17 November Revolutionary Organization (17N), the longest surviving and most lethal terror group in post-junta Greece, gave few answers to key questions about home grown terrorism; and there are still investigators, primarily abroad, who believe that 17N's "directing" echelon has never been discovered.
The most important question occupying the authorities right now is whether the Microsoft incident signifies the beginning of yet another spike in domestic terror activity, especially given the collapse of the Greek economy and the advancing unraveling of Greek society under pressure from austerity policies. Among the worries of the authorities are the possibility of an expanded terror campaign against foreign targets in Greece, fomenting street unrest coupled with focused "dynamic actions," and targeting individuals for assassination.
The current Greek predicament, many fear, is the perfect environment for those who would choose "armed revolutionary justice" now that the majority of the Greek population is outraged against the traditional political establishment and perhaps more prone to tacitly approving a "revolutionary" solution.
Two back-to-back general elections have effectively dismantled the two-party system that has governed Greece since 1974 and have resulted in a reinforced left wing and the parliamentary emergence of an ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-communist political group. Pundits suggest that a "common" crime wave, the collapse of living standards across the board, and the rapid expansion of fear among the Greek people have created conditions reminiscent of the interwar years when European totalitarian regimes rose riding a wave of popular support.
In recent years, home-grown terrorists have demonstrated that they have been learning fast. In 2010, police arrested six members of the so-called "Revolutionary Struggle" (RA) terror cell which, according to police, put together ANFO car bombs, one of which severely damaged the Athens Stock Exchange in September 2009. RS has also claimed responsibility for the January 12, 2007 rocket attack against the US Embassy in Athens. The Sect of Revolutionaries, specializing in assassination, has murdered a police officer and a journalist and has extended threats against government officials and media personalities. The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei has claimed responsibility for many arson attacks and, in November 2010, the responsibility of sending fourteen parcel bombs to foreign governments and embassies in Athens. This latter action reportedly led to a coordinated, cross border law enforcement effort, with the Italian police claiming they had discovered unprecedented links between Greek and Italian "revolutionaries."
Somewhat hyperbolically, Greek government officials have claimed in the past that "all" home grown terrorists are known to the authorities but their arrest is hampered by lack of evidence. Such claims do not answer the obvious question of why these "known" alleged terrorists aren't persistently shadowed by the authorities so that they can be caught red handed.
The activities by the aforementioned three terror groups have demonstrated that the post-17N generation of domestic terrorists is more unpredictable and callous, not to mention prepared to quickly escalate "revolutionary action" with the introduction of modern means and advanced tactics. In demonstrating their ability to reach targets at the very top, domestic Greek terrorists targeted in June 2010 the public order minister himself with a parcel bomb, which exploded in the hands of the minister's senior police adjutant, killing him instantly.
If the past is any reliable indicator, rapid anti-terrorist results following the Microsoft incident should not be expected. Furthermore, the broader counter-terror posture of the Greek state still remains plagued by political divisions which undermine resolve and create significant operational and judicial loopholes throughout any anti-terrorist operation. With the trial of the Revolutionary Struggle suspects under way, for example, seven out of the eight defendants, including the three who have openly admitted in court that they claim "political responsibility" for the terror cell's actions, are out of jail under "limiting conditions." Among them is the leading member of the group, a person with a long history of "revolutionary" action that somehow was never effectively prosecuted despite the claimed close surveillance of him by the authorities. So much for a determined posture toward domestic terrorists.