EUROPOL has released its annual survey of terrorism in the EU: TE-SAT 2011: EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2011. Analysis of ‘Left-wing and anarchist terrorism in the EU’ is extracted below. See also Europol: Arab spring poses terrorist threat to EU (Andrew Rettman, EUobserver, April 19, 2011):
The annual survey, the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, out on Tuesday (19 April) covering events in 2010, noted that the vast majority of terrorist incidents in the EU last year came from separatist groups such as Eta in Spain or the Turkish group, the PKK/Kongra-Gel.
Foiled or successful separatist attacks accounted for 160 out of the total 249 cases in 2010, compared to 45 far-left incidents and just three Islamist cases.
Rettman notably misinterprets the report when he writes that “Europol said far-left and anarchist groups in Europe have traditionally used a Marxist-Leninst discourse of anti-capitalism, anti-militarism and anti-authoritarianism”, while the PKK — formally identified as a terrorist organisation by the Australian Government — was the subject of police repression in August of 2010.
Otherwise, the release of the report comes a few weeks after a Wave of raids and arrests against anarchist networks in Italy, the acquittal (in early 2010, after an attempted frame-up) of The Belgrade Six (unmentioned in the report) and a bombing in Minsk which has been speculated (by authorities) may have been the work of anarchists.
Note that, closer to home, trials against a range of individuals (mostly indigenous) are soon (May 30) to commence in Aotearoa/New Zealand, almost four years after the initial arrests (October 15, 2007). For more infos, please see : October 15 Solidarity and the superb Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua blog. Note that resistance to the Green Scare in the United States also continues and that June 11 is an international day of solidarity with Marie Mason and Eric McDavid.
7. Left-wing and anarchist terrorism
• 45 left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks occurred in 2010
• 6 fatalities including 1 Greek police officer
• 34 individuals arrested for left-wing and anarchist terrorist activities
• Increased violence in attacks
• Increased transnational coordination between terrorist and extremist left-wing and anarchist groups
Left-wing terrorist groups seek to change the entire political, social and economic system of a state according to an extremist left-wing model. Their ideology is often Marxist-Leninist. The agenda of anarchist terrorist groups is revolutionary and anti-capitalist but also antiauthoritarian.
An increasing number of Member States are now making a distinction between the activities of left-wing and anarchist groups. This distinction is reflected in the descriptive parts of this report, but does not show in the statistics. A number of incidents which occurred in the EU were claimed by anarchist groups, most often on the internet. They were prosecuted as extremist attacks, as opposed to terrorist attacks, and therefore do not appear in the statistics since these cover terrorist attacks exclusively.
7.1. Terrorist attacks and arrested suspects
In 2010, left-wing and anarchist groups remained very active in Europe. More attacks occurred than in previous years and the increased use of violence in their actions led to six fatalities.
Traditionally, these groups are most active in Greece, Italy and Spain. However, a number of other countries have also seen increased activity in 2010. Social unrest among the population, caused by the global economic downturn and the reduction of state spending on social welfare, may have influenced this development, which has been noticeable since 2007. The modus operandi in a number of attacks showed signs of increased internationalisation of left-wing and anarchist groups – although both have historically been international in outlook.
In 2010, a total of 45 terrorist attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups were reported by Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and Spain. This represents an increase of 12% compared to 2009. In Greece, five terrorist groups carried out a total of 20 attacks – an increase of over 30% compared to 2009.
Increased violence in left-wing and anarchist attacks, which has been seen since 2007, persisted in 2010. In Greece, attacks claimed the lives of six people in 2010. The explosion of a parcel bomb at the Ministry for Citizen Protection on 24 June killed a police officer. On 19 July, a journalist was murdered outside his house. This particularly violent attack involving firearms was claimed by the organisation Sekta Epanastaton [Sect of Revolutionaries / Armed Struggle for Revolutionary Independence Sect of Revolutionaries] and it could be linked to the assassination of a police officer in 2009. Both of these attacks were clearly designed to kill. Despite the fact that left-wing and anarchist extremists generally try to avoid casualties in most of their attacks, a 15-year-old boy died on 28 March when he manipulated an explosive device ostensibly placed to carry out a terrorist attack; his mother and sister were injured. During a demonstration in Athens on 5 May, anarchists caused a fire in a bank, which resulted in the death of three employees.
The proportion of bomb attacks increased from 20% in 2009 to 51% in 2010, while arson attacks remained at the same level of 42%. Since 2008, government targets have continued to be favoured over business targets.
Anarchist groups in Spain are mainly active in Catalonia; they carried out 16 attacks in 2010. Most were arson attacks, targeting business and governmental interests, without causing injuries.
Although traditionally most attacks occur in Greece, Italy and Spain, in 2010, an arson attack damaged the Greek Embassy in the Czech Republic. A job centre in the Austrian capital, Vienna, was also targeted.
34 persons were arrested for left-wing and anarchist offences in 2010. These arrests took place in five EU Member States: Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain. The majority of those arrested for left-wing and anarchist violence were suspected of membership of a terrorist organisation.
Successful law enforcement operations have led to a significant increase in the number of suspects arrested in Greece and have also led to the dismantling of one of the country’s main terrorist organisations. In March, the terrorist organisation Epanastatikos Agonas [Revolutionary Struggle] was dismantled after the arrest of six persons and the seizure of several machine guns, a rocket launcher, hand grenades, and explosive materials. The investigation into the parcel bomb campaign of November resulted in the arrest of 12 suspected members of Synomosia Pyrinon Fotias [Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei].
The downward trend in left-wing terrorism in Spain is illustrated by the decreasing number of arrests since 2007. The organisation Grupos Antifascistas Primer de Octubre (GRAPO) [First of October Antifascist Groups] did not re-establish after it was dismantled in recent years. In Italy, no attacks were attributed to leftwing terrorist groups in 2010, as a result of a number of successful investigations in 2009.
7.2. Terrorist and extremist activities
Some attacks in 2010 showed signs of increased transnational
coordination between groups. A parcel bomb campaign in November targeted various embassies, foreign Heads of State, and European institutions.
It is the first time that the Greek terrorist organisation Synomosia Pyrinon Fotias has staged such a large-scale synchronised attack, which attracted widespread media coverage. The motive and selection of targets remain unclear. It appears that the organisation has raised its profile towards a more international dimension. An international call for action was issued in a communiqué and promptly caused similar actions in Italy and Argentina.
Two out of three parcel bombs, which were sent to the Swiss, Chilean and Greek embassies in Rome on 23 and 27 December, exploded and caused minor injuries. The attacks were claimed by FAI (Federazione Anarchica Informale) [Informal Anarchist Federation].
The Chilean and Swiss embassies were targeted to express solidarity with imprisoned ‘comrades’ – a typical motive for anarchist groups. An important field of action for members of the left-wing scene has remained the confrontation with right-wing opponents. This occurs under the guise of discrediting ‘fascist’ campaigns, targeted attacks on individuals, assets and property, and direct physical confrontation during demonstrations.
In January, the Danish police arrested a group of left-wing extremists. One of them is suspected of having planned and organised violent attacks against various radical right-wing opponents. An increase in tensions towards extreme right-wing groups was also noticed in Italy. Although the Swedish anarchist movement weakened slightly in 2010, there were a number of attacks against right-wing political opponents and violent confrontations between the two groups. In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, a number of political parties were targeted by anarchist extremists. Most offences were in the form of wilful damage and there were relatively few physical attacks on individuals. The Czech Republic reported a decline in violent confrontations between left- and rightwing groups.
Besides traditional ideological themes such as anti-capitalism, anti-militarism and anti-fascism, in 2010 left-wing and anarchist extremists also focused on the global economic recession. A number of EU Member States experienced large-scale protests against austerity measures taken by governments to reduce the debt burden and stem the impact of the economic crisis. The arson attack against a job centre in Austria can also be placed in this context.
In some instances, the ranks of protesters were infiltrated by extremist groups, which resulted in violent clashes with police. However, attempts to gain ground amongst the population are generally seen as unsuccessful in most Member States.
In Belgium and Italy, increased activity by anarchist groups on topics such as anti-authority, anti-law enforcement and anti-prison issues continued in 2010. The trend of using more violence in such attacks, which was already identified in last year’s report, persisted. Anarchist groups do not hesitate to enter into direct confrontation with law
enforcement personnel. This was seen in Belgium, where a police station was attacked, another one was the subject of an arson attack, and several police vehicles were damaged.
Germany reported a considerable decrease in the number of offences related to left-wing and anarchist extremism. Austria also observed a general decrease in anarchist activities, except in the capital Vienna. Squatters, who were rather active in 2009, only staged a few uncoordinated actions.
The indications that international coordination is developing, is exemplified by the choice of common targets in different cities or countries, as well as the use of similar modus operandi or series of initiatives by different groups in solidarity with imprisoned comrades. In this regard, the increase in arrests in Greece will result in some important court cases which could trigger more solidarity attacks across Europe. Therefore, anarchist violence can be expected to continue developing in the European Union in 2011.
See also : angry news from around the world | From the Greek Streets | Italy Calling (Italian Tales Of Resistance) | This Is Our Job (Spain) | Daggers, Rifles and Dynamite: Anarchist Terrorism In Nineteenth Century Europe (January 4, 2011) | The International Campaign Against Anarchist Terrorism, 1880-1930s (Richard Bach Jensen) (December 31, 2009).