The assassination of Officer Nektarios Savvas as he sat in his car in the early morning hours of June 17 has brutally pushed human-killing terrorism back to the top of Greece's domestic agenda.
Officer Savvas was savagely riddled, Mafia style, from pointblank range, revealing murderers possessed by rage and an uncontrollable urge to send an unmistakable, blood-spattered message to other police and the vast majority of Greek society.One of the guns used to murder Officer Savvas has been matched to the Sect of Revolutionaries, thus confirming that this newly arrived terrorist group is indeed bent on realizing its threats to kill police randomly, made in a proclamation to the press last February.
Emerging details surrounding the slaying are disturbing, to say the least. Officer Savvas was apparently a very easy target, having followed forever the same pattern on a witness protection assignment. Not only he was routinely located in a parked automobile known even to the kids of the neighborhood, he apparently operated without even the periodic backup of a counter-surveillance unit. When he himself spotted suspicious young men lingering near his post, and allegedly reported their presence to his superiors, no action was initiated to investigate these suspects, press reports have claimed.
It must be noted that Officer Savvas belonged to the Greek police's anti-terrorism squad, a supposedly crack unit with advanced tactical skills and an "offensive" operations doctrine. None of these theoretical characteristics helped him though ward off his killers, caught as he was in the worst confluence of circumstances for a man at dangerous law enforcement work: complacency and repetitive obvious pattern.
Fighting terrorism is hardly limited to deploying elite police units -- real or imagined. Rather, going after cold-blooded gunmen and bombers with the aim of permanently neutralizing them requires an all-out security mindset that incorporates much more than just "ninja" skills.
A security mindset mobilizes "hearts and minds." It informs strategy. It shapes tactics. It underlies a whole host of actions that aims at securing loose ends and closing "back doors." It lies at the heart of a proactive intelligence gathering organization tasked to penetrate terrorist sub-cultures and collect time sensitive information that is the best defense against the most potent weapon of the terrorist: surprise.
Greece is not simply deficient in security mindsets, it lacks one completely. Caught between a long history of chaotic politics, pervading corruption, "socially sensitive" practices that breed anomy, and cowering complacency toward anarchist militancy for fear of disturbing Greek "democracy," the Greek state is simply unable to comprehend the essence of security and act with the aim of sustaining it, expanding it, and protecting it with every legal means at its disposal.
A security mindset cannot be bought off the shelf. It is the outcome of long, and often arduous, processes of education, training, and social cohesion. The December 2008 riots that tore through Greece with such ferocity, and with the government an often idle spectator, demonstrated in the starkest possible form how short the distance between relative stability and complete breakdown has become in this country.
Unfortunately, it is obvious that the lessons of the devastation caused by a militant minority, acting out its most extreme violent fantasies on the body of Greek society, has not registered with Greek authorities.
It is dangerous as it is hopeless to believe that police "reform" alone can counterbalance the acts of terrorists who display, at every given opportunity, their determination for "total war" against the rest of us. It is dangerous and hopeless to speak grandiose words when there is hardly any determination to act.
A security mindset is not a luxury and it is not a toy for more petty partisan blabber. It is a vital necessity. Without it, Greece should expect to suffer, with no relief, for the longest time from the criminal acts of miniscule terrorist groups which, nevertheless, possess determination to kill and maim disproportionate to their physical size.
Food for thought, time for action.