NEWS

November 17’s manual gives clues to its links

One of the most valuable documents ever to fall into the hands of the police is that discovered on January 29, 1978, thrown away with other incriminating material on Mt Parnitha, and which appears to be the work of the November 17 terrorist organization that has killed 25 people in Greece since 1975. The document, part of which is included below, sets out the rules for conspiracy, security, methods of action and techniques for preparing explosives. The authorities have been analyzing the document in connection with strikes by the organization. The 54-page document includes handwritten notes indicating a link between November 17 and the People’s Revolutionary Left (ELA), and was found with a cache of weapons, bullets and explosives, apparently dumped either by members of November 17 itself, by others in possession of the material, or even members’ relatives who may have been getting nervous. Judicial and police authorities have reached the conclusion the «terrorism manual» is for the most part a translation, the original material coming from terrorist nuclei in Latin America. An almost identical document reportedly circulated among members of the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) at the end of the 1960s, during the military dictatorship in Greece. It is believed that the translator of the document is a person with roots in the internationalist movement and that the typewriter used is the same one on which November 17’s proclamations have been typed. Appeals Court prosecutor Dimitris Tsevas focused much of his investigation on this document, although the manual, as well as some of his files, mysteriously disappeared after his death. A study of the text has provided a clear picture of the operational and hierarchical structure of November 17, along with descriptions of security regulations, the safeguarding of «nuclei,» surveillance methods, communication and vigilance among members, and ways to prepare for missions, among other things. The content is self-evident, expressed in a surprisingly simplistic manner, especially because of the outdated means used, such as telecommunications (it was written in the late 1960s), as compared with what is available today. The first few pages contain instructions regarding personal, organizational and operational security, criteria for choosing safe houses, contacts and communication codes, and ways to evade or annihilate police. Terrorists, referred to as «militants,» are exhorted to be discreet and to put their goal above their own personal lives, to be prepared, exceptionally observant and to always have a cover story ready. They should never carry incriminating papers on them or use taxis when on a mission, or drive a car if being sought by the police. They should avoid approaching places monitored by police, such as leftist or progressive gatherings, or traveling by plane. The organization always has reserves of contacts, material and manpower and a system of protection when an operation is in progress. Associates, contacts, safe houses and laboratories disappear when a member has been arrested, and anyone connected with that person goes into hiding. If arrested members are released, they are tested to see if they have turned informant. For safety’s sake, technical teams are kept absolutely separate from the organization, and report directly to «headquarters.» Children and older people are inquisitive, janitors are observant, and any houses used have to fulfill certain security criteria. Meetings are subject to their own rules. The details of missions are announced just 24 hours in advance and those who are to take part are kept under watch. The largest section in the document is devoted to theoretical and practical instruction on how to make and use explosives, how to protect oneself from chemicals and other dangerous substances, a list of dozens of chemical compounds for mixing explosives, types of detonators, mines, time bombs, and ways to cause explosions, sabotage trains or power sub-stations, among other things. It is hard to believe that the organization’s members have remained invisible and undetected for 27 years just by following the instructions detailed in the document. Kathimerini’s Sunday edition printed the following extracts from the manual.