Terrorism on Rise in Greece in 2010 - Europol
In 2010, incidents of terrorism in Greece rose 30 percent to 21 compared to 2009 and their level of violence also increased, according to the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) released by Europol.
The threat of terrorism from separatist, Islamic, left and right-wing groups remains high through Europe, particularly in France and Spain. According to the report, there were 240 terrorist attacks in the EU in 2010, compared to 316 cases in 2009.
Six people, including a Greek police officer, were killed during these attacks. But "successful law enforcement operations have led to a significant increase in the number of suspects arrested in
Greece and have also led to the dismantling of one of the country’s main terrorist organisations," says TE-SAT.
In March 2010, the terrorist organisation Epanastatikos Agonas was dismantled after the arrest of six persons and the seizure of several machine guns, a rocket launcher, hand grenades, and explosive materials. The investigation into the parcel bomb campaign of November resulted in the arrest of 12 suspected members of Synomosia Pyrinon Fotias.
Left-wing and anarchist groups remained very active in Europe, strengthened by social unrest caused by the global economic downturn and the reduction of state spending on social welfare. This trend has been noticeable since 2007, says TE-SAT.
A total of 45 terrorist attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups were reported by Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and Spain. This represents an increase of 12% compared to 2009.
Most were arson attacks, targeting business and governmental interests, without causing injuries.
Although traditionally most attacks occur in Greece, Italy and Spain, in 2010, an arson attack damaged the Greek Embassy in the Czech Republic. A job centre in the Austrian capital, Vienna, was also targeted.
In total, 611 terrorists were arrested, a figure which reflects a 47 percent increase in Islamist terrorist arrests. This is "an indication that Islamist terrorists continue to undertake attack planning against Member States," says TE-SAT.
In most cases, terrorist threats refer to issues perceived as expressions of Western anti-Islam
sentiments, such as the Muhammad caricature publishing incidents in Denmark and Sweden, the banning of the veil in France, the Swiss vote regarding the construction of further mosques, and the deployment of troops in support of the Afghan government’s fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Notable terrorist attacks in 2010
• In July 2010, the far-left terrorist group Sekta (Revolutionary Sect) sent a letter to Greek newspaper Ta Nea claiming responsibility for the murder of journalist Socrates Giolias and threatening more journalists and political figures. Sokratis Giolias, 37, was shot to death 16 times at close range outside his home in Athens on July 19. His murder was condemned by the media and political leadership as a blow to democracy in Greece.
• On 1 January 2010, a 28-year-old Somali, linked to the radical Islamist organisation al-Shabab, attempted to kill the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. The cartoonist has been living under police protection since his caricature of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, first published in a Danish newspaper in 2005, caused agitation in Islamist circles. During this attack, Westergaard managed to save his life by locking himself in a panic room in his house until the police arrived. On 4 February 2011, the defendant was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.
• On 10 September 2010, a minor and apparently premature explosion was caused by a Russian national of Chechen origin in a hotel toilet in Copenhagen, close to the offices of the Jylands Posten newspaper that published the cartoons some years previously. The suspect used a Belgian passport with a false name.
• On 11 December, an attack took place in Sweden, consisting of two separate explosions in the centre of Stockholm. The first explosion occurred in a vehicle reportedly registered to the originator of several audiofile threats e-mailed to the Swedish TT news agency, and addressed to the Swedish Security Service, from a Hotmail account moments before the attack. In the audio-file, the perpetrator claimed to be carrying out a terrorist attack in retaliation for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by the Swedish painter, Lars Vilks. A second explosion occurred 10 minutes later, a few streets away from the first explosion. In this case, the suspected suicide bomber himself was the only fatality.