Greek Domestic Terrorism
Greek domestic terrorism stems from radical leftist and anarchist ideologies that developed as part of the resistance to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. Shortly after the dictatorship’s collapse, radical leftist elements that opposed this junta, and what they regarded as US and other Western support for it, emerged to form two of Greece’s most notorious terrorist groups, Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17N) and Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA).
17N’s first major operation was the assassination of CIA Chief of Station Richard Welch on 23 December 1975; ELA also appeared in 1975 and became Greece’s most active terrorist organization, conducting approximately 250 attacks against a wide range of targets. These two groups, as well as several more obscure radical leftist organizations, terrorized Greek, US, and Western government and commercial interests until the early 2000s through targeted bombings and assassinations. ELA claimed its last operation in 1994, while Greek authorities largely disrupted 17N in 2002 in an effort to stem domestic terrorism prior to the beginning of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
Greek domestic terrorism has witnessed a steady resurgence following the 2004 Athens Olympics, with activity spiking after Greek police killed a teenager on 6 December 2008 in Exarcheia, a Bohemian and counterculture section of Athens known as a hotbed of anarchist activity. Three of the most prominent groups currently active are Revolutionary Struggle (EA), Sect of Revolutionaries (SE), and Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei (SPF), which have targeted Greek, US, and other Western government and commercial interests for attacks over the past few years.
EA, an armed radical leftist group that is ideologically aligned with 17N, has conducted a number of high-profile terrorist operations against Greek and Western interests since its emergence in 2003, most notably a rocket-propelled grenade attack against the US Embassy in Athens on 12 January 2007. Greek authorities in April 2010 arrested six EA members and confiscated a large weapons and explosives cache—largely disrupting the group’s operations—but the whereabouts and activities of the group’s remaining members are unknown.
SPF, an anarchist terror group, has conducted coordinated attacks in Athens and Thessaloniki against Greek Government targets and claimed responsibility for a November 2010 parcel bomb campaign that targeted international leaders and institutions outside of Greece, a first for Greek domestic terrorists. Although a series of arrests during 2011 crippled SPF’s operations, group members remain at large and dangerous.
Radical leftist SE, Greece’s most deadly active terror group, reappeared in July 2010 after a 13-month hiatus to assassinate a Greek journalist outside of his Athens home; it also assassinated a Hellenic Police officer in June 2009 and has threatened other Greek government and media targets with attacks. The United States listed SE as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group in February 2011.