When you think of terrorist groups, you usually think of al-Qaeda casually flying planes into buildings, or Japanese cultists pumping sarin gas into subway stations, right? Do you think of a bunch of left-wing types pulling up on mopeds outside the home of a nuclear engineering executive and mercilessly kneecaping him? 'Cause I don't. Or at least, I didn't use to.
The shooting took place on May 7 in Genoa, Italy, and responsibility was claimed (in a letter sent to a newspaper) by a group calling itself the Olga Nucleus of the Informal Anarchist Federation, or IAF. The victim, Roberto Adinolfi, was the CEO of a nuclear energy firm owned by the Italian State Defence group, Finmeccanica.
In their letter, the IAF said they targeted Adinolfi because, "before nuclear power fell into disrepute, he [Adinolfi] was amongst the key players… responsible for the re-introduction of nuclear power in Italy…" According to them, science has sold out, "leading us to auto-destruction and total slavery." The IAF think it's only a matter of time before Europe, with its 187 nuclear power plants, has its own Fukushima, and they see this attack as a precursor to the eventual abandonment of nuclear power.
Adinolfi may have been an easy target, but in the letter they warn that this attack is just the beginning and that Finmeccanica will be targeted a further seven times, one attack for each of the Greek anarchist members of the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei currently in prison.
This attack might be the most powerful of its kind this generation has seen, but Europe has a rich history of left-wing groups taking up arms and fighting the State. In the 1970s and 80s, in Germany and Italy respectively, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and Red Brigades carried out a series of bomb attacks and assassinations against their governments and forms of Nato presence. They pretty much had the powers that be running scared, until the Soviet Union–who provided ideological and financial support to the groups–collapsed, prompting a widespread abandonment of left-wing terrorism in Europe, and allowing the rise of religiously-motivated terrorism in its place. That said, Greece is a country where left-wing terror has never really gone away.
For the past 40 years, ever since the Greek Junta brutally massacred the students who dared protest against it in 1973, left-wing revolutionary groups such as 17 November have carried out attacks against the Greek State, along with NATO and CIA targets. The violence slowed in the mid 00s, as Greece and the rest of Europe enjoyed an economic boom, but obviously that didn't last long, and since the police murdered 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in 2008, left-wing groups have been re-radicalizing. One of those groups is the aforementioned Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, most famous for attempting to mail-bomb the presidents of France and Italy back in 2010.
Things haven't got any better in Greece, with the spiralling economic crisis continuing to dominate news and social agendas in the country. The government has received two IMF bailouts and Greeks have had the joy of experiencing what life is like with an 18 percent unemployment rate, tax hikes, pay cuts, and a rise in crime. Pretty jolly, don't you think? I guess all this rioting and the bomb attacks are just their way of celebrating life.
On April 1 of this year, a bomb made up of gas canisters and two liters of fuel was left on the Athens metro by a previously unknown group. Named after the day when several buildings were burned during anti-austerity protests earlier this year, apparently the February 12th Movement were nice enough to warn the authorities by not arming the mechanism this time. Nine days later, the Public Sector Reform Ministry, responsible for sacking 150,000 public sector workers, was devastated by a bomb.
On April 8, in solidarity with the Greeks, a German group called Commando Lambros Foundas set a number of cars on fire outside a Deutsche Telekom building in Berlin. Their statement read: "Only a few days ago a senior shot himself in the head, right in the middle of Syntagma Square in Athens. The reason for that is, that he couldn’t pay his debts any more and the only way he saw out was to commit suicide. Since the beginning of the crisis more than 1500 people have committed suicide in Greece. Companies like Deutsche Telekom are largely responsible." The fact that Commando Lambros Foundas chose to highlight the plight of their Greek comrades was further evidence for the renaissance of an organized, militant, and united left-wing terrorism front in Europe.
In the beginning of May Greece held an indecisive election that saw gains for the extreme left and right, and was supposed to force the formation of a coalition. But the parties involved could not reach an agreement, and so fresh elections were announced for June 17. There is no question that this lack of leadership is plunging the country further into crisis, and the rise of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party points to a major power vacuum in Greek society. Whether the next step will be a rise in bombings and a return to political assassinations, I'd say take a cheap holiday in Athens this summer to find out.
"So what," you might be thinking, "Italy and Greece are in far worse economic and social situations than old Blighty, and we'll never see attacks like that." Well, you're kinda wrong. On May 22, the British branch of the IAF targeted railway signalling infrastructure in Bristol and went on to claim responsibility for the attacks by posting on the Bristol Indymedia website: "We specifically chose these places so that employees of the Ministry of Defence, as well as military industry companies Raytheon/ Thales/ HP/ QuinetiQ etc., in the business park near Filton Abbey Wood station, were amongst those affected."
Just like their Italian counterparts, the group plans to strike again, using this attack as a springboard for what they called "urban low-intensity warfare." Apparently, "finance, judicial, communications, military and transport infrastructure will continue to be targets." Which is a step up from a train line in Bristol.
Also in their sights are this summer's Olympic Games, which funnily enough haven't got them feeling at all patriotic. "We're some of the 'unpatriotic ones' who find the 2012 Olympics, with the ensuing spectacle of wealth (when so many here struggle to feed themselves and their families) and escalating police state, frankly offensive. We have no inhibition to use guerrilla activity to hurt the national image and paralyse the economy, because simply, we don't want rich tourists–we want civil war." It's unclear whether or not they mean a "civil war" in the Syrian sense of the words, but is what we're seeing here really a re-birth of militant European left-wing revolutionary groups? We certainly have the right climate for it: An ongoing continental financial crisis, political indifference, unpopular wars, environmental disasters, the rise of far-right fascist groups who go around slapping women on TV. If they could solidify their public support and be careful not to isolate themselves with unpopular factions like the BMG and Red Brigades in the twilight years of their campaigns, these weirdoes might even stand a chance.
As for internal solidarity, they seem to have that already; the moment an attack is carried out or one anarchist is arrested in a European country, somewhere else in Europe a bunch of fed up leftists get together to work out how they will express their congratulations or condolences. Maybe the Eurozone's vision of Europe as one big, happy, supportive family isn't so far-fetched after all?
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