MAPPING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANTI-TERROR LEGISLATION IN GREECE IN THE AFTERMATH OF 9/11

Andreas G. Banoutsos
(RIEAS Research Associate- (MA) in Intelligence and Security Studies at the Brunel University, UK).

Copyright: www.rieas.gr

Background

International terrorism has long been recognized as a serious foreign and domestic security threat. The term “terrorism” is largely synonymous with “political violence”, and refers to a strategy of using coordinated attacks that typically fall within the time, manner of conduct and place commonly understood as unconventional warfare.

Terrorist attacks are usually characterized as “indiscriminate”, “targeting of civilians” or executed “with disregard for human life.” The term “terrorism” is often used to assert that the political violence of an enemy is immoral and unjustified. According to the definition of terrorism typically used by states, academics, counter-terrorism experts, and non-governmental organizations, terrorists are actors who do not belong to any recognized armed forces, or who do not adhere to their rules, and who are therefore regarded as “rogue actors.”

As the 9/11 Commission Report (released on July 19, 2004) concludes that the U.S. decided to use all tools at its disposal to combat international terrorism such as diplomacy, international cooperation and constructive engagement to economic sanctions, covert actions, physical security enhancement as well as military force.

A modern trend in terrorism is toward loosely organized, self-financed, international networks of terrorists. Another trend toward terrorism is religiously or ideologically motivated. Radical Islamic fundamentalist groups or groups using religion as a pretext pose terrorist threats of varying kinds to U.S. interests and to friendly regimes. A third trend is that apparent growth of cross-national links among different terrorist organizations, which may involve combinations of military training, funding, as well as technology transfer.

As we all know terrorism is a global phenomenon, a major challenge facing policy-makers is how to maximize international cooperation and support without unduly compromising important national security interests. A growing issue bedeviling policy-makers is how to minimize the economic and civil liberties costs of an enhanced security environment. The issue of how to combat incitement to terrorism – especially in instances where such activity is state sponsored or countenanced – perplexes policymakers as well.

This short analysis written for RIEAS focuses on mapping the significant anti-terror legislation in Greece in relation to the impact of the 11th of September 2001 and in accordance with the domestic historical framework and the external environment.

Greece’s Anti-Terror Legislative Developments in the aftermath of 9/11

After the lethal attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001, the arrest and collapse of a terrorist group had more importance. Obviously, in our era, the phenomenon of terrorism has become global, escaping the narrow limits of national interest. The connection and the cooperation of terrorist organizations globally must be examined carefully during investigations and during the attempts to eliminate them. The terrorist attacks against the U.S. revealed the broadness of such threats, and even “Le Monde” (1) published the next day on its first page, “We are all Americans”. The attacks were directed not only against the U.S. but also against all the open democratic and multicultural societies. As a result, democratic countries declared their support and solidarity to the Americans and their intention to bring the people who were responsible for the attacks before the law for the appropriate punishment.

More than a year before the attacks of 9/11, in June 8th 2000, the Greek Terrorist Organization “17 November Group” attacked and shot dead Brigadier Stephen Saunders (military attaché of the British Embassy in Athens) while driving through Athens traffic on his way to work at the British Embassy. (2) In the aftermath of this assassination a new law was brought into the Greek Parliament, which was in fact preparing the ground for future regulations about terrorism.

The Law (L.2928/2001) - “Amending terms of the Penal Code and the Penal Procedure Code and other terms for protecting citizens from criminal actions of criminal organizations” was considered to be one more supportive “instrument” for arresting terrorists. This particular draft was introduced in order to face organized crime, which according to its sponsor “is a serious, sick social phenomenon.” Human value is composed by the gifts of life, personal freedom and honor. The organized crime attacks this lawful right, which is “human dignity itself.” The Law also says “the suggested regulations apply to all kinds of organized crime, which usually comes from crime organizations. A terrorist organization as having a criminal character is included to these regulations.”

The above Law (L.2928/2001) we may say that it was an effective tool in the fight against domestic terrorism in Greece. Less than a year after its implementation, the members as well as the leaders of the most notorious Greek Terrorist “17 November Group” were arrested and put into trial.

Furthermore, two months before the Athens Olympic Games 2004, the Greek Parliament voted another Anti-Terror Law. The New Law (L.3251/2004) named: “European Arrest Warrant and the Confrontation of Terrorism” was harmonized to the Decision Context of the European Union against Terrorism (Council of Ministers, June 2002). (3) In this particular law, there is an attempt of defining terrorist actions under the following grounds “the performance of one or more crimes from the contents of the familiar list is punished, when it takes place with a way or on a range or under such conditions that can harm a country or an international organization. Subjectively, when the perpetrator aims to the serious intimidation of people or the illegal enforcement of a public authority or an international organization to an action or its avoidance, or the serious destabilization or destruction of the fundamental constitutional, political, financial or social structure of a state or an international organization.” Since the Law (L.3251/2004) no other anti-terror legislation has been voted from the Greek Parliament. However, the appearance and activation of a new terrorist organization (“Revolutionary Struggle Group”) in the years that followed the Athens Olympic Games urges for the voting of a new anti-terror bill that will enhance anti-terror legislation in Greece.

Concluding Remarks

In the fundamental question of the effectiveness of anti-terror legislation in combating terrorism, the Greek experience shows that if the political will is strong enough (this was the case in Greece after the assassination of the military attaché, Stephen Saunders, June 2000, of the British embassy in Athens by the 17 November terrorist group) anti-terror legislation can facilitate the effort of the intelligence and security apparatus in combating terrorism.

It has been argued that terrorism is neither a philosophy nor a social movement, but a method. (4) Probably this particular opinion does not reply to the total of the organization of political violence or the organizations that have used forms of violence in order to achieve a political aim, but it becomes very understandable when some of these organizations show a different profile compared to the one they formed during their historical course. We characteristically refer the Greek experience of the terrorist organization “17 November Group” which at least at the beginning of its trial, did not seem to regard to the image they had formed during their 27 year-old activities.

Terrorism remains for as long as its presence and activities affect states and governments. When the State is “under pressure” it reacts by the means and the “Tools” (security and intelligence services) it has and attempts to give an end to the armed action of the terrorists. Equivalently, the special legislation concerning the condemning of terrorists should work under the same logic. (5) According to the former British Home Secretary John Reid: “Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term, in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the long-term.” (6)

In conclusion, we might state that continuous discussion on the possibility of using Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by terrorist organizations in the future, suggest the constant alertness and, therefore, the constant upgrading of the anti-terror legislation!

Notes:

(1)Le Monde (French Newspaper), September 12, 2001 Issue.
(2)En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Saunders
(3)Simeonidou-Kastanidou E., Organized Crime and Terrorism, Sakkoula (ed), Athens & Thessaloniki 2005, p: 107.
(4)Wilkinson P., Terrorism versus Democracy, the Liberal State Response, Frank Cass, London, 2001, p: 13.
(5)Wilkinson P., op. cit., p: 95. He suggests that “if the forming of an urgent legislation is considered necessary for the confrontation of serious terrorist actions, the laws should be temporary, to be under a constant check by the Parliament, which ought to agree before their renewal. Under that grounds the democratic order and security is ensured without risking forever the citizens’ rights.”
(6)Available at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk