Two-speed terror

Last year this column argued that a new type of urban guerrilla movement was being born on the fringes of the youth uprising. It would not style itself after the disbanded November 17 terrorist group but would rather be closer to Italy’s armed autonomy movement. Developments since have confirmed that prediction. As was to be expected, the radicalization of Greek youth and the December riots have fueled the recruitment of anti-establishment groups. It also seemed back then that the overall climate would push extremist elements into armed action. When the riots died down, they sought to continue the struggle with different, more dangerous means. Greek terrorism has undergone a transformation. November 17 was a closed and almost professional group with ideological underpinnings and a code of conduct. Its successors have a different discourse and way of doing things. They attack more and in different ways. But they seem less prepared. Judging from the volleys of shots fired at their targets and the vehicle found in Kifissia on Tuesday carrying a huge amount of explosives, the new cycle of terror may well prove to be far bloodier than the previous one. The climate also seems to favor the creation of more armed groups that will operate on the border between civil and criminal law. Their amateurism will make them more vulnerable but also more predictable. Meanwhile, society is faced with assaults on individuals, such as the beating of criminologist Yiannis Panousis yesterday. Such actions cultivate a climate of fear and undermine the right to free expression. Such acts are deeply undemocratic and cannot be legitimated by any sort of anti-establishment ideology. In fact, they are low-level terror. The situation is bound to trigger a conservative backlash from society that will in turn have consequences on the breadth of our democratic freedoms.