Ever since the Greek terrorists known as the Revolutionary Movement 17 November gunned down the CIA station chief in Athens a few days before Christmas 1975, the shadowy group has managed to strike with impunity at its chosen targets. Western intelligence agencies have long suspected 17 November of acting at the behest of prominent left-wing Greek politicians. The little that is known about the organisation is that it is nationalistic, left wing and likes to issue rambling communiques that quote Balzac. But in Washington and London it has long been suspected of being the cats paw of a radicalised Greek intelligence service, the GYP. Washington made its frustration’s with Athens clear in its most recent world terrorism survey, where it stated: “The Greek government continues to make no headway in its pursuit of Greek terrorists, in particular, the Revolutionary Organisation 17 November that is responsible for numerous attacks against US interests, including the murder of four US officials.” Until today’s Observer revelations, a direct link between 17 November and the Greek secret service had not been established. The Kurdish bomber Seydo Hazar has told the Observer that:
17 November leaders work hand-in-glove with elements of the Greek intelligence service.
Police were kept away from PKK training camps by 17 November leaders who checked the identity of car numberplates with Greek officials.
Funds were obtained and distributed to the PKK by a retired naval commander who lives on a military base and is a well-known sympathiser of 17 November.
The organisation is the most feared group in Greece and often referred to as the deadliest terrorist group in Europe. Since 1975 its members have executed 21 people, without anyone being arrested, charged or convicted. Indeed, a close analysis of 17 November’s actions down the years, points to a remarkable set of coincidences in which Greek government interests are seen to have been furthered by individual attacks.
The Observer’s evidence directly implicates the 17 November in sheltering the PKK by providing housing and training facilities for its guerrillas.The PKK bomber has told the Observer that Kurdish agents could not train and pass through Greece without direct government backing. “The Greek intelligence service were organising the chemicals, the high explosives, for example they were giving people in the (Kurdish) “home office” Greek passports,” Hazar said.
The name 17 November comes from the day in 1973 when the Greek Colonels sent tanks and soldiers to smash a student uprising at Athens Polytechnic University, killing 34 young people. It was Europe’s Tiananmen Square and out of it grew a terrorist organisation. Highly nationalistic, the group is anti-Greek establishment, anti-US, anti-Turkiye, anti-Nato; it is committed to removing US bases and the Turkish military presence from Cyprus, and to severing Greece’s ties to Nato and the European Union. 17 November’s operations are always planned and carried of with military precision. First there is the “hit”, carried out with the same small collection of Colt. 45 and Smith and Wesson revolvers. The Colt. 45 that dispatched the CIA man, Robert Welch, in 1975 was used again last June to murder Cosfi Peraticos, scion of a Greek shipping family, which bought the privatised Elefsis Shipyards in 1992. British diplomats, businessmen and interests have also been singled out by 17 November; most recently the HMS Ark Royal which was targeted with rockets when it docked in Pireaus in 1994 with a crew of 1,000. Heavy rain prevented the rockets detonating, but there were other successful rocket attacks that day against American and German interests.
The 17 November communiques, with a five-pointed star and the name “17N”, typically come from the same typewriter that issued the movement’s first proclamation in 1975 shortly before Welch’s execution. But again, the Greek authorities have never come up with any leads. This summer, the US government renewed the reward for the capture and conviction of 17 November terrorists (it is now worth $2 million), implicated in the deaths of four Americans, injuries to 28 other Americans and a rocket attack on the US embassy compound in February 1996. What distinguishes the 17 November from other terrorist organisations is that in 22 years not a single member of the group has been arrested. Indeed, the identity of no member of 17 November is said to be known to Greek, American or European police and intelligence agencies. It is a claim no other terrorist group can make.
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