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Cablegate: Greece Arrests Suspected Members of Domestic Terrorist Group

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OO RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHTH #1519/01 2730726
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 300726Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0760
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001519

SIPDIS
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA
AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO USOFFICE ALMATY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/09/30
TAGS: PTER PREL ASEC ABLD GR
SUBJECT: GREECE ARRESTS SUSPECTED MEMBERS OF DOMESTIC TERRORIST GROUP

REF: ATHENS 1507

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

Summary

-------

1. (SBU) In the most high-profile arrests of domestic terrorist
suspects since 2003, Greek police raided two houses in the Athens
districts of Halandri and Galatsi on September 23, and arrested
four individuals who were subsequently charged September 25, in
connection with three bombings carried out by the "Conspiracy of
Fire Nuclei" from June to September of this year. Police said they
found a complete "cooking pot" bomb (the group's MO in previous
attacks) and other bomb-making equipment at the sites. Citing
police sources, Greek media is speculating that the suspects may
lead police to other terrorist groups responsible for bigger
attacks, including the large ammonium nitrate bomb that exploded
outside Athens Stock Exchange September 2 (within minutes of one of
the Fire Nuclei bombings) and the January 2007 RPG attack on the
U.S. Embassy, both of which were claimed by Revolutionary Struggle.
End Summary.

The Facts

--------

2. (S) In a conversation with the Ambassador on September 24, 2009,
Greek Ministry of Interior Secretary General Constantinos Bitsios
said the suspects, all in their early twenties, were associated
with the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei and were swept up after Greek
police identified their Halandri apartment as a place of interest.
Inside, police found bombs and associated materials identical to
those used in previous attacks by the group. Bitsios praised the
low-key cooperation the Greek government has received from U.S. and
UK experts, and said the government looked forward to further
cooperation.

3. (SBU) Four of the individuals arrested, Panagiotis Massouras,
Charilaos Hatzimichelakis, Emmanouil Giospas, and Myrto
Pentaeloglou, were charged September 25, 2009, with a variety of
counts connected to three similar bombings: the July 12, 2009,
bombing at the home of former Deputy Public Order Minister
Panagiotis Hinofotis, the September 2, 2009, bombing at the
Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace in Thessaloniki (which occurred
within minutes of the big blast at the Athens Stock Exchange), and
a September 23, 2009, bombing outside the apartment of opposition
PASOK party economy spokesperson Louka Katseli and her husband
Gerassimos Arsenis, who served in five different ministerial
positions in previous PASOK governments. No one was hurt in these
attacks. The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei are also believed to be
responsible for a large number of other, small-scale attacks, and
have long been seen as a particularly violent outgrowth of Greece's
urban "anarchist" community. Police announced that they are
seeking the arrest of six other individuals, five Greeks and one
Albanian, in the case.

Comment

-----

4. (C) Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei is not the biggest fish in
Greece's domestic terrorist scene, but if the evidence is as strong
as Bitsios has told us the arrests are a major achievement for a
government that had not managed to lock up a single member of a
named terrorist group since 2003. Greek officials have been making
a concerted effort to crack the terrorist and extremist groups ever
since the December 2008 riots and the subsequent increase in
domestic terrorist attacks, when Bitsios came over from the Prime
Minister's office to the Ministry of Interior. In addition to
energizing the investigations, the government has also enacted
legislative reforms this year to authorize greater use of
surveillance cameras, phone taps, and the creation of a DNA
database. These tools should benefit whatever government comes to
power after the October 4 elections in pursuing domestic
terrorists.

5. (C) There is extensive reporting in the Greek media suggesting
police believe this investigation will open leads that will allow
them to reach the more prominent and violent domestic terrorist
groups, Revolutionary Struggle and Sect of Revolutionaries.
According to these reports, police believe some of the individuals
arrested served as liaisons to other groups. While it is common
belief that domestic terrorist groups know and coordinate with each
other - and the almost simultaneous timing of the two September 2,
2009, bombings suggests coordination - we do not yet know if police
will be able to make these links in this case. MEGA-TV reported
September 26, 2009, that police believe one of the arrested
individuals was involved in the January 2007 RPG attack on the U.S.
Embassy by Revolutionary Struggle. However, there is no evidence
of this at present. We have long worked with Greek law enforcement
to try to obtain a breakthrough in this case, and we will
coordinate closely to see what evidence connected to these new
arrests might produce progress on that case.
McCarthy

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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