– EA has committed a series of small-scale bombings, targeting government and police since 2003
– Recent EA attacks are becoming more bold, and potentially deadly
– EA likely to exploit ongoing unrest in Athens and commit more attacks in the near to mid-term
The emergence of the small, radical leftist group, Revolutionary Struggle (Epanastatikos Aghonas or EA) in the Greek political climate has proved to be a difficult challenge for authorities. EA has carried out a series of attacks as part of a campaign against the Greek political establishment and police authority. EA has also exited the realm of Greek politics and attacked Greek allies including the US, specifically the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the US embassy in Athens in 2007.
Highlighting the group’s series of attacks will underscore the group’s targeting priorities and tactics, but will also provide a glimpse into the likely characteristics of future attacks.
Timeline of Attacks
January 5, 2009: EA claimed the shooting of a Greek police officer, the December 23 shooting of a riot police van and a failed bomb attack on Shell’s headquarters in Athens (Terrorist Attacks). The gunmen reportedly fired 40 shots and threw a hand grenade at police guarding the Culture Ministry on January 5, 2009.
April 30, 2007: The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a police station with a stolen MP5 9 mm weapon.
January 12, 2007: From a building across the street, an EA operative fired an RPG into the US embassy in Athens . No one was injured in the attack, but the attack caused minor damage to the roof and exterior windows (Source).
May 30, 2006: EA placed a 4.5 pound improvised explosive device (IED) on a bicycle parked near the home of Greek Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis in Athens. The device detonated when a passing car was mistaken for the Minister’s car (Failed Attack).
December 22, 2005: EA claimed responsibility for a small explosion outside the Ministry of Development in Athens. The bomb was placed in a flowerpot outside a parking garage and was detonated by a timing device (Source).
December 12, 2005: An improvised explosive detonated at 6:00 am local time near the Greek Finance Ministry in Athens . The device was placed on a motorcycle and was triggered by an alarm clock. The blast damaged shops, cars and cafes and injured one civilian.
March 14, 2004: EA placed a homemade improvised explosive device comprised of dynamite at the offices of a Citibank in Neo Psychiko, a northern suburb of Athens. Police were able to diffuse the device (Failed Attack).
May 5, 2004: EA carried out a staggered attack on a police station in Athens’ Kalithea district. Three improvised explosive devices detonated during a span of 20 minutes at different locations around the station, likely to draw in emergency rescue and police for a second or third bombing .
September 3, 2003: EA launched a dual bomb attack against a courthouse complex in central Athens . A local newspaper received a telephone warning of the impending blasts. Authorities suspect the blast was in retaliation for police operations against the now-defunct radical leftist group of Revolutionary Organization 17 November (N17).
Shift in Tactics
As seen in a majority of EA attacks, the group has targeted high-profile government and police property with small-scale IED’s. Dynamite and timing devices appear to be the group’s favored materials for constructing IED’s. Further, with the group’s small structure and membership, the utility of suicide missions is unnecessary, too costly, and uncommon in previous leftist militant campaigns.
More importantly, the 2007 US embassy RPG attack and the latest shooting of the police officer in January 2009 highlight a shift in tactics. Police have confirmed that the group used a Kalashnikov rifle and a stolen MP5 9mm submachine gun, which was used in the April 30, 2007 attack on police (Source). This proclivity for high-powered weaponry suggests the group will utilize similar weaponry in the near-term, as it provides a more accurate method of attack.
Furthermore, the use of automatic weapons in the group’s latest attacks suggests future attacks may become more deadly and without prior warning. Several of EA’s early attacks were by way of small-scale homemade IED’s that detonated after newspapers received warning phone calls.
Capitalizing on the Chaotic Political Environment
As previously stated, while protests have lessened nationwide in scope, violent clashes between youth protesters and police are occurring with regularity in Athens. With EA pledging it could “literally crush the police security, leaving unguarded the political and economic powers that be”, any degree of ongoing volatility in Athens will provide EA with a desired sense of chaotic cover to continue committing attacks in the near-term (Source).
On February 3, 2009 police suspect EA struck yet again, with a drive by shooting targeting a police sentry at a station in the Korydallos district of western Athens. We anticipate that as violent unrest persists in Athens in the near-term, EA will more than likely to target police to capitalize on a heightened level of international media reporting on the country’s deteriorating political stability.