NEWS

Exercise envisages 2004 attack

Senior security officials yesterday hailed as an unqualified success a three-day exercise meant to cope with the eventuality of terrorist attacks during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said he was highly satisfied with the response by some 1,800 police officers, firemen, secret service employees, harbor police and first-aid staff during the exercise code-named Rainbow 2002, which started on Friday. Prepared in close cooperation with British security experts, it was Greece’s first major exercise of the sort ahead of the Athens Games during which police, harbor police and army units will provide security at venues throughout the capital. «I feel very strong satisfaction… as we have proved that when we prepare properly, when we act with precision and respond to all parameters of a case properly, then we will prevail,» Chrysochoidis said. «I believe this exercise is a step forward in the direction of an even more professional Greek police force, for even better preparations ahead of the Olympic Games on the part of the police and all other services participating in the Olympic Security program.» And Chrysochoidis praised Scotland Yard experts from the UK, who helped prepare the exercise that involved a double nightmare scenario; the terrorist hijacking of a passenger plane at Athens airport and a hostage crisis on a Piraeus cruise ship hosting visitors to the Games. The Public Order Ministry developed close links with British security officials in the investigation of the November 17 terrorist group. Scotland Yard took a direct interest in the case after the June 2000 assassination of the British military attache in Athens, Brigadier Stephen Saunders, by the left-wing group, and is credited with having contributed significantly to breaking N17 while managing to avoid trampling on the Greek authorities’ sensibilities.