NEWS

Police: Terror groups run by one center

Senior officials involved in the war against terrorism have decided to speed up their investigation so as to silence critics who claim the government may not fulfill its promise to wipe out the problem. This was decided at a meeting on Monday. Sources say police have a clear picture of all the terrorist groups that operated in Greece from their first appearance in 1975, and their contacts with international terrorists. The lull since the arrests of 15 suspected members of November 17 is attributed to the effort to build watertight cases. «From the major attacks to the smallest gas-canister attack, all the actions are overseen by the same central mechanism which managed to control all the distinct groups,» a source said. This «center» comprised a few people who adopted the idea of an armed struggle and formed two organizations at the beginning: the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), which believed in small, symbolic attacks, and November 17, which went for more violent acts. ELA, with a broader membership than November 17, then functioned as a reservoir from which other groups sprang. This was the result either of disputes between members or an effort to make the urban guerrilla movement appear stronger than it was. The May 1 group is particularly interesting, as its few members left November 17, in which they played auxiliary roles, and then ended up in ELA. Police also have a clear picture of the contacts with the Venezuelan-born international terrorist «Carlos» (which are noted in the files of the East German security police, the Stasi) but also the extensive contacts with Arab terrorists. Officers believe that the Arabs exploited the pro-Palestinian sentiment that was very high at that time and used local organizations as middlemen in a range of illegal activities, including arms smuggling. Many of these Arabs later became arms smugglers or joined witness protection programs and helped eliminate terrorist groups in their own countries. The police crime laboratory has bought equipment worth more than 3 million euros in order to deal with evidence found in two November 17 hideouts in July. These include chambers for tracing otherwise invisible fingerprints and the start of a national DNA bank.