OPINION

Terrorism and politics

The history of Greece’s terrorist organizations, which is directly connected to the country’s modern political history – and an extremely conspiratorial aspect of it – has so far been treated more as a case with a detective plot and less as the outcome of political developments during the country’s crucial transitional periods. Police investigations have consistently dominated assessments of the phenomenon over the 27 years of nearly unhindered terrorist activity, while much has been said concerning the involvement of foreign intelligence services; the terrorists’ operational abilities were rarely acknowledged, and there was no adequate justification for the police’s repeated failures to make even a single arrest or to pre-empt strikes. Until now, the political debate on terrorism has either crashed on conspiracy theories put forth by people who attributed terrorist activity to outside conspiracies or to the reluctance by many politicians who did not want to taint the image of the anti-dictatorship struggle or see naive connections made with figures who subsequently entered the political fray. Close investigation, however, demonstrates that the origin of terrorism lies with the violent anti-dictatorship organizations that ebbed away after the military dictatorship. Furthermore, it emerged as a result of political fermentation in the year following the dictatorship, when the issue was raised of whether to involve these organizations in the mainstream post-1974 political scene, regardless of any parliamentary representation. Their existence is more closely linked to their influence on young people in the revolutionary atmosphere of May 1968 and the armed movements that sprang up in Germany and Italy than with resistance to the colonels’ regime. Though these dramatic events took place on the political sidelines, they were still part of the broader societal questioning characteristic of the era. It is only when the phenomenon is evaluated in purely political terms that one can begin to trace the thread of terrorism and the outlets for its aging and fatigued leaders. Lacking this, and given the confusing lists of would-be terrorists now circulating, the matter will remain a mystery, a useful tool to harm Greece’s national interests and a mechanism that serves the political expediency of groups with murky objectives. a low-ranking former diplomat who served in Athens. Both of them suggested that Greece’s terrorists enjoyed impunity because of sympathies within the ruling party. All this built up to the question of whether Greece was capable of hosting a safe Olympic Games in 2004.