Police probe crime-terror link

The police counterterrorism unit is believed to have joined an investigation into the activities of a violent underworld gang linked to the kidnapping of a ferry firm owner in January following the discovery of large quantities of heavy weaponry and explosives in the homes of certain suspected gang members. Sources have told Kathimerini that police raids on the homes of three suspects unearthed items including Kalashnikov assault rifles, bulletproof vests, brass knuckles, telescopes, hoods and forged police identification cards. However the initial results of forensic tests carried out on the weapons discovered at the suspects’ homes indicate that they have not been used in prior criminal activities. A raid carried out on the premises of a firm belonging to one of the suspects, Giorgos Tromboukis, reportedly also led to the discovery of significant quantities of explosives. Meanwhile, police claim to be in possession of taped conversations between suspected members of the crime gang in which references were allegedly made to the ordering of materials for the construction of explosive devices. This evidence, considered along with the gang’s tactics in the abduction of elderly shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos, has prompted police to investigate the possible existence of underground links between organized crime and the activities of resurgent terror groups. «This case has depth that cannot be gauged accurately at this moment in time,» a high-ranking police source told Kathimerini. Meanwhile, attempts by police to generate leads regarding the whereabouts of the hideout used by kidnappers to hold Panagopoulos hostage and about the multimillion-euro ransom the gang exacted from the shipowner’s relatives, had failed to bear fruit by late yesterday. Police are re-examining telephone conversations made between suspected gang members in the hope of producing some new insights.