Stasi files hold trove of names

The investigation into Greek terrorism has been focusing on organizations beyond November 17 in recent weeks, with the files of the defunct East German security police, the Stasi, offering insight into Greek terrorist organizations, as well as the points of contact between domestic and international terrorism. In the two months since Savvas Xeros, a 40-year-old icon painter, was seriously injured by a bomb he was carrying in Piraeus, police have managed to arrest 14 other suspected operatives of November 17. Reports yesterday said that Xeros was sufficiently recovered to join today two of his brothers who are among the 14 being held in special cells in Korydallos Prison. Police are now looking into suspects tied to the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), which began operations a few months before November 17’s first murder in December 1975, the May 1 group, which is believed to have been an offshoot of ELA and which operated from 1987 to 1992, as well as other groups. The authorities have been moving slowly, trying to avoid making any arrests that will not lead to convictions. Kathimerini reported in its Sunday edition that the Stasi files which were made available to Greece after the collapse of the East Bloc and the demise of East Germany, provide valuable information on ELA and another seven Greek groups. The Stasi, the files show, kept track of Greek terrorist groups (describing them, with distaste, as extreme leftist, and therefore uncontrolled) from at least 1975. But the Stasi did not limit themselves to terrorist groups, dealing as well with business and other interests. Documents also show that the East Germans had penetrated Greece’s National Intelligence Agency (EYP). In one case, there is a document, dated July 16, 1987, in which an EYP agent is asked to provide information regarding what measures the Greeks are planning to take against the East German agency. In another, (dated October 13, 1987) the Stasi noted that a senior officer of EYP had met some time in the 1980s in Athens with Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist who was responsible for hundreds of deaths and who was shot dead (or committed suicide) in Baghdad last month. The report said that when the Americans learned of this meeting this increased the climate of mutual distrust which played a major role in the fact that the authorities were unable to break November 17 for so many years. Regarding terrorism in Greece from 1982 to 1989, the Stasi files name 31 Greeks and about 20 foreigners. The Stasi kept detailed files on all the Greek groups and the attacks that they claimed responsibility for with proclamations or which were believed to have been carried out by them. It appears that the Stasi have identified all the members of, at least, ELA, probably through the group’s contacts with the international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. These notes include biographical details, among which are at least three families involved with ELA. The Greek names involve people who were proven to have carried out terrorist acts (and who are no longer alive), people who were tried and convicted or acquitted for terrorism, the family and friends of terrorists, people who changed sides for one or other reason, others who belong to or support parliamentary parties, and people from the anti-establishment scene who are opposed to violence but who expressed solidarity with terrorism suspects out of a sense of principle. The foreign names involve Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Lebanese and Palestinians who either committed acts in Greece or planned them here or simply stayed here. But the files also included the Venezuelan Carlos, his German deputy, Johannes Weinrich, two Swiss nationals and Italian Red Brigade members.

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