Greece has a colorful history of domestic terrorism and urban guerrilla warfare, going back to the early 1970’s. This period has seen a multitude of groups active, most of them with leftist or anarchist ties and typically known for small-scale bombings and shootings against international companies, public infrastructure, political parties and the police.
Historically, the deadliest of these was the Revolutionary Organization 17 November. This far-left group founded in 1975 had a reputation for secrecy and internal discipline-indeed, it was disbanded by police only in 2002. Among its 103 attacks, the group was most infamous for high-profile assassinations of foreign officials, including a CIA station chief in Athens, US Army, Navy and Air Force officers and a British diplomat.
Since 2008, regular terrorist attacks, shootings and other acts of organized political violence have occurred, drawing on a reservoir of hostility that the ongoing financial crisis has created, particularly against government, state security and foreign firms.
The following study presents a chronology of 85 attacks from 2008 through 2012, including both those in which the perpetrators are known and unknown. First, however, is an assessment based on the cumulative data and basic information about the major groups behind these attacks.
Numerical Personnel Estimates and Linkages
The number of “radicalized” persons belonging to far-Leftist groups in Greece is estimated at 3,000 people, most of them fairly young, and concentrated in Athens and Thessaloniki. Out of these, 350 to 500 are suspected by the local authorities to have taken part either directly or indirectly in urban guerrilla-style attacks.
A hardcore nucleus of 50 people (still at-large) is suspected of being regular and full-time operatives for terrorist groups. Another 44 have been arrested over the past four years and are either incarcerated or pending trial.
According to information provided by the Greek Police, the Italian police and Europol, Greek extremists have ties with similar groups in Italy, Spain and France and have also been in irregular contact with German and Dutch networks. Moreover unconfirmed reports by Greek press have noted connections with Lebanese figures who have provided training paramilitary facilities.
Operational Capacities and Arms Sources
The operational capabilities of left-wing terrorist groups in Greece tend to fluctuate from month to month depending on arrests made or changes within the inner ranks of these extremist networks, as well as finances and access to arms. The disbanding of 17 November dealt a major blow to the most infamous such group, however, it is believed that some N17 members or sympathizers have simply become involved with the newer groups behind today’s attacks.
It is also known that Greek and Balkan organized crime figures are in contact with Greek terrorists, helping to arm the latter with weaponry (mostly AK-47, grenades, Scorpio semi-automatic and Beretta pistols). Police sources also indicate that multinational organized crime involved with drugs trafficking and human trafficking of illegal immigrants from Muslim countries, with ties to Islamist networks are getting weapons from the latter. It should be remembered that far-left groups have traditionally seen a common cause with immigrants, both for ideological reasons and because the arch-enemy (that is, Greek far-right groups) are violently opposed to illegal immigrants. The latter thus sometimes become ‘fodder’ in internal urban warfare between Greek left- and right-wing extremists.
Data on Left-wing Groups and Activity
The following groups have become most prominent in the last few years. Their actual involvement is probably much higher than the official figures given here, considering that the perpetrators of many of the 85 attacks remain unknown, or will become known soon following various investigations and trials.
Name of Group: Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (also called ‘Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei’); in Greek, Synomisia Pyrinon Tis Fotias (SPF)
Leader: Unknown; non-hierarchical group
Structure: Autonomous cells
Active from: 2008
Ideology: Radical Anarchism, Neo-Nihilism
Number of Attacks carried out 2008-2012: 12 (pending trials, actual number may be significantly higher)
Percentage of total attacks in this period: approx. 14%
Name of Group: Revolutionary Struggle; in Greek, Epanastatikos Agonas (EA)
Leader: Nikos Maziotis (suspected)
Structure: Close-knit group
Active from: 2003
Ideology: Anti-Capitalist; Radical Anarchism
Number of attacks carried out 2008-2012: 10
Percentage of total attacks in this period: approx. 11.5%
Name of group: Revolutionary Sect (also called ‘Sect of Revolutionaries’); in Greek, Sekta Epanastaton
Structure: Paramilitary combat structure
Active from: 2009
Ideology: Anti-Capitalist; Radical Anarchism, Neo-Nihilistic
Number of attacks carried out 2008-2012: 4
Percentage of total attacks in this period: approx. 3.5%
Note (1): The review does not include committed or suspected robberies by leftist terrorists group or any other illegal action made simply to raise funds for their actual operational aim.
Note (2): Although the majority of arson attacks since 2008 are widely attributed to the group “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (SPF)”, trials have not been concluded yet as of February 2013, so the final actual numbers may differ.
Note (3): Incidents regarding arrests of suspected terrorists which involved violence are not mentioned. Neither are various routine or irregular searches of police forces or discoveries of weapon caches and hideouts mentioned.
January 21: A series of arson attacks against bank branches and parked luxury cars in several locations in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
October 31: A series of arson attacks against banks, the offices of the New Democracy party and luxury cars. Perpetrators unknown
November 10: Small-scale bombing of the office of New Democracy in a suburb of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
November 13: A series of small-scale bombings in banks in the city of Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
December 13: Small-scale bombing of the French press agency in the center of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
December 7-14: Large-scale riots with significant damage to public and private buildings during the demonstrations over a police killing of a 16 year old-student the previous night in Athens. Several extremist groups participated, including incoming Albanian, Romanian, German, Spanish and Italian “comrades.” Along with the rioters resident illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan participated in lootings that occurred with an estimated damage of 250 million euros.
Police sources noted that based on evidence, at least 1.5 million euros were “invested” for the purpose of recruitment and ‘armaments’; bombs were mostly Molotov cocktails. A typical “asymmetrical threat.” Around 300 persons were arrested, belonging to various groups.
December 20: A series of attacks with arson material in stores in the center of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
December 21: A small-scale bomb attack in the office of the financial police in Athens, and against two banks and a luxury car dealership. Perpetrators unknown
December 23: Attack with AK-47 against a police bus. Revolutionary Struggle
December 25: Arson attacks against stores in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
January 5: Attempted AK-47 attack on a police officer in Athens. Revolutionary Struggle
January 9: Violent demonstration in the center of Athens, dozens of arrests made of persons from different groups
January 29: BMW dealership in Athens hit by arson attack. Perpetrators unknown
February 3: AK-47 and grenade attack against a police station in Athens. Revolutionary Sect
February 5: Arson attack against the office of the alternate Minister for Public Order. Perpetrators unknown
February 12: A series of arson attacks against offices of magistrates in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
February 17: Arson attack against Greek TV station Alter. Revolutionary Sect
February 18: Large-scale bombing of Citibank branch in Athens. Revolutionary Struggle
March 3: Arson attack against a railway wagon in a suburb of Athens. Perpetrators Unknown
March 19: Bomb attack against a public real estate company. Popular Will
March 25: Arson attacks against banks and a telephone company in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
March 30: Arson attacks against offices of New Democracy, banks and a luxury yacht office. Perpetrators unknown
March 31: Arson attacks against banks and luxury cars in Athens.Perpetrators unknown
April 9: Arson attacks against a church in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
April 13: Arson attacks against randomly selected cars in Athens and Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
May 12: Small-scale bombing at a bank branch. Revolutionary Struggle
May 18: An arson attack against a parked police motorcycle in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
May 20: Bomb attack against offices of private company in Athens. Popular Will
June 2: Arson attack against the building of the general secretary of media and public information in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
June 4: Arson attack against a police station in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
June 17: Assassination of an anti-terrorist police officer in Athens. Revolutionary Sect
July 3: Arson attack against the private office of an ex-public order minister in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
July 3: Arson attack against a McDonald’s in Athens. Revolutionary Struggle
July 4: Arson attack against building of the Ministry of interior in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
July 11: Arson attack against the house of ex-alternate Minister of interior. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
July 28: Series of arson attacks against office of New Democracy, PASOK and LAOS political parties in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
July 26: Small-scale bombings in municipal police buildings in Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
September 2: Large-scale bombing against the stock market in Athens and the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace building in Thessaloniki, with no casualties. Revolutionary Struggle (suspected)
October 28: Attack with AK-47 and grenades against a police station in Athens, leaving six officers wounded. Proletarian People’s Self-defense
October 30: Bomb attack against the house of a former education minister in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
November 5: Arson attack in vehicles in center of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
November 14: Bomb attack against the house of a PASOK MP. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
November 20: Arson attack against municipal police building in suburb of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
November 30: A series of arson attacks in public building and banks in Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
December 5: Small-scale bombing in magistrate building in the city of Heraklio, Crete. Perpetrators unknown
December 6: Arson attacks in the center of Athens against cars. Perpetrators unknown
December 28: Large-scale bomb attack (no casualties) in the offices of the National Insurance Company in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
January 9: Small-scale bomb attack near national parliament. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
January 28: Arson attack against the private office of a former Greek Prime Minister. Perpetrators unknown
February 11: Attack with stones-rocks against passing police officers in the center of Athens. Local anarchist group
February 16: Bomb explosion outside of a JP Morgan Bank in Athens. Revolutionary Struggle (suspected)
February 28: Stoning of passing police officers in the center of Athens. Local anarchist group
March 18: A series of arson attacks in several vehicles in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
March 22: A series of bomb attacks against the offices of the Golden Dawn party, a police station and the house of the vice-president of the Pakistani community in Athens. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
April 14: A series of arson attacks in two offices of MP’s in Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
April 14: Arson attack against office of a PASOK MP in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
May 5: Arson attack during a public demonstration against a bank branch in the center of Athens, with three employees killed. Radical anarchist network suspected after police investigation in late 2012
May 13: Bomb attack near Athens central correctional facilities, one civilian wounded. Revolutionary Struggle
May 14: Bomb attack against a Thessaloniki magistrate building. Revolutionary Struggle
June 24: Parcel bomb explosion in the Ministry of Public Order, killing a police officer who was assistant to the minister. Revolutionary Struggle suspected
July 19: Assassination of a Greek investigative journalist. Revolutionary Sect
November 1-4: Parcel bombing in a series of attempts to send bombs via international and local mail to multiple targets, including embassies in Athens, the governments of France and Germany, Europol headquarters and others. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
December 30: Athens courthouse bombed. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire
January 12: Small-scale bomb attack against office of the LAOS political party in Thessaloniki and another one against the office of the union of retired political officers. Perpetrators unknown
January 16: Series of arson attacks against banks and PASOK offices in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
January 25: Small-scale bombing of the offices of the judges’ union in Thessaloniki. Perpetrators unknown
February 16: Arson attack in a university building in center of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
March 18: Small-scale bombing in the private office of the minister of health in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
April 17: Series of arson attacks in public building and vehicles in Athens and the island of Salamina. Perpetrators unknown
April 18: Small-scale bomb in the political offices of New Democracy and PASOK MP’s in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
April 19: Arson attacks against buildings of the Metro railway system in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
December 13: Small-scale bombing of the private office of a PASOK MP in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
January 21: Arson attack against offices of the Ministry of Culture in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
January 31: Small-scale bomb attack against a supermarket in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
February 13: Arson attacks against two cinemas in the center of Athens during a violent public demonstration in Athens. Local anarchist networks (suspected)
February 27: Arson attack against a wagon in the metro rail system in Athens. Urban guerrilla group
April 3: Small-scale bombing in the private office of a former Greek prime minister in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
April 19: Arson attack against randomly-selected vehicles in the center of Athens. Perpetrators unknown
June 27: Large-scale arson attack against the offices of Microsoft in Athens. International Revolutionary Front
September 2: Small-scale bombing of a municipal police building in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
October 8: Arson attack against wagon of tram network in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
November 26: Arson attack against the house of former general secretary of ministry of public works in Athens. Minority Struggle
December 7: Small-scale bombing in the house of former finance minister in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
December 8: Large-scale bombing of an office of the Golden Dawn party in the outskirts of Athens. Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI)
December 30: Small-scale bombing in a local magistrate’s office in Athens. Perpetrators unknown
Looking for More Balkanalysis.com Publications?