US concern about terrorism in Greece

US concern about terrorism in Greece

Athens, November 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Intense anxiety and concern prevails in the US government for what is happening in Athens regarding the case of former Minister of Public Order Yannis Panousis and his allegations of ties between Syriza and terrorists, a few days before the arrival in Athens of US Secretary of State John Kerry which is secheduled for December 4.

Terrorism is an issue at the top of the US agenda as they show particular sensitivity over the issue and many times in the past have put questions to the various Greek governments, mainly of PASOK, although there were times of tension with New Democracy too as delays in terrorist arrests were observed.

The Syriza – ANEL coalition is no exception and the US, since the early months of the first term, last Spring had strongly raised the issue and there was great upheaval then with the legislative initiatives of Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos.

And now, the US side has communicated that it will not tolerate or cover favoring terrorists and especially the Panousis case has caused “red alert” and already specific messages to the Greek government have been sent.

Similar messages were sent to the prime minister’s office since last summer, when the governor of the National Intelligence Service, Yannis Roubatis, had informed of the US concern over various issues relating to terrorism, which, apparently, according to the American side, has not been eradicated in Greece and remains a major issue.

At the same time, the US side has communicated its concern about the treatment of refugees, for fear that among the refugees there are jihadists and the control applied by Greece is flawed.

The Panousis case has worried them very much and they cannot imagine that from on there will be any relation between Syriza members and members of terrorist organizations.

Although the government has since fiercly rejected the accusations regarding Syriza’s relations with terrorists and in particular the Nuclei of Fire, the text of prisoner Nikos Romanos that heralds a “Black December” for Greece has not gone unnoticed.

The text/threat by prison inmates Nikos Romanos and Panayiotis Argyros, talks about the new “Black December” that Athens will be put through this year.

Romanos and Argyros clearly mention in their proclamation that terrorist attacks will break out in Athens in the form of arson attacks in multinational retail stores, bombings and arson against politicians, banks and police stations during the Christmas festive season. If the text is not a product of the rich “revolutionary imagination” of the two youngsters and even some of what their colleagues outside of prison are planning to do is true, then we are talking about very difficult times ahead for Athens, worse than those of the December that Athens lived following the murder of Grigoropoulos.

For the US government counter-terrorism is a top priority, especially since victims of terrorist organizations operating in Greece include US citizens.

For the US, moreover, even the arrest of 17N members did not close the terrorism file, as they have to continued since then to stress that not all members of the terrorist organization have been arrested and there is a gap from 1982 and backwards.

There is suspicion surrounding the current Syriza government despite the efforts Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from the beginning to reassure them by placing people who can communicate with the US and are not considered hostile in various positions.

The problem with the US began last April when legislative initiatives Syriza took concerning the criminal code and the prison system, abolishing New Democracy laws (Xeros, hoodie-law, Gama Type Prisons, obtaining DNA) bothered Americans greatly.

In fact terrorism was at the epicenter of a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and US counterpart John Kerry in Washington, with the US side stressing publicly that it is concerned about the release from prison of Savvas Xeros while the Greek minister stated that it was not a release but a different form of detention.

Even the State Department stressed in an announcement that Savvas Xeros was convicted for multiple murders: “We believe that he should complete his sentence as was imposed by the Greek judicial system.” Similarly, the US embassy in Athens described in a document the murder in cold blood by the “17N” group of American master William Edward Nordeen and the firing of a rocket against the embassy, and denounced the terrorist actions of Xeros.

Then, to appease American fury, a great effort was required while the close associate of Alexis Tsipras, State Minister Nikos Pappas tried to remedy the situation. He met with the American Ambassador to Athens and, in the presence of the Prime Minister’s diplomatic advisor Vangelis Kalpadakis, they discussed the new prison law.

Although last September, before the elections, the US removed 17N from the list of foreign terror groups, according to a US Department of State, this doesn’t mean that their fears have ceased.

And these fears will grow as long as the action of terrorist groups that must be eliminated in Greece persists, according to US diplomatic sources. “The government must act in this direction and the ruling party officials shouldn’t be talking with members of terrorist organizations” is the message to the Greek government.

It should be noted that among the victims of terrorist acts, apart from Greek politicians, businessmen and policemen, there were US military officers, Turkish diplomats and British military officers.