Greece

Overview:  The Greek government remained a collaborative CT partner in 2019.  The Greek Parliament passed legislation to criminalize terrorist travel and the provision of material support to terrorists.  Following Greece’s first comprehensive national assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing in 2018, the FATF upgraded Greece’s standing in 2019.  Greece continued to vet irregular migrants arriving in significant numbers.  Greece worked toward implementing its PNR law to screen air passengers in accordance with international standards.  There were no major terrorist incidents in Greece in 2019; however, domestic groups carried out intermittent small-scale attacks.  Greece is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2019 Terrorist Incidents:  There were intermittent domestic terrorist incidents in 2019:

  • On March 22, two unidentified perpetrators on a motorcycle threw a grenade that exploded in front of a police guard booth outside the consular section of the Russian Embassy resulting in minor damage.  A group called FAI/IRF Revenge Cell Mikhail Zhlobitski later claimed responsibility for the attack on an anti-establishment website.
  • On November 1, approximately 10 perpetrators broke into the offices of far-right political party Golden Dawn and set off an improvised explosive device that caused a fire and material damages.  No organization has claimed responsibility for this attack.
  • Greece experienced small-scale disturbances conducted primarily by domestic anarchists often acting in solidarity with incarcerated terrorists.  Examples of these incidents included vandalizing government buildings, private residences of Greek politicians, and foreign missions with paint and leaflets.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  On November 13, the Greek Parliament passed changes to the penal code to increase penalties for some terrorist acts and to adopt elements of EU Directive 2017/541 criminalizing terrorist travel, training, and the provision of material support.  Greece’s law enforcement and border security officials used watchlists, databases, and biometrics to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism.  Greece is working toward implementing its 2018 PNR law to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute terrorist offenses and serious crime.

Greek authorities arrested domestic and international terrorists, including:

  • In May, Greek officials arrested an Iraqi national pursuant to a European arrest warrant issued by German authorities, charging the individual with terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against humanity.  Greece extradited the individual to Germany in September.
  • In November, Hellenic Police launched a large-scale operation, uncovering a cache of weapons, including explosives, and arresting three suspects affiliated with the “Revolutionary Self Defense” domestic terrorist group that was responsible for five attacks since 2014.
  • In December, Hellenic Police found and defused an improvised explosive device placed close to a central Athens police station and a university campus.  Authorities noted the lack of warning message that domestic groups typically send and assessed that the device, described as a nail bomb, was intended to kill and maim.  No one claimed responsibility for the device.

Despite objections from the U.S. government and others, convicted terrorist Dimitris Koufontinas was granted furlough from prison at the start of January; his subsequent requests for furlough have been denied.  Koufontinas is serving 11 life sentences plus 25 years for murder and his leadership role in “November 17”, the name of the terrorist group that targeted and assassinated members of the U.S. Mission to Greece, as well as British and Turkish diplomats, Greek politicians, and Greek citizens.

The porous nature of Greece’s borders remained a concern as irregular migrants continued to arrive in Greece in significant numbers.  Beginning in the summer of 2019, Greece experienced a sharp increase in such arrivals, with more than 10,000 between September 30 and November 3.  Greece’s national identification card remained extremely vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution; it has not incorporated security features, such as digitized photo and biometrics.  The Greek government committed to address this vulnerability through the introduction of a biometric national identification card in the near future.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Greece is a member of FATF.  Its FIU, the Anti-Money Laundering Counter-Terrorist Financing and Source of Funds Investigation Authority, is a member of the Egmont Group.

In September, FATF completed its mutual evaluation of Greece.  The report concluded Greece has the foundations for effective action against money laundering and terrorist financing but needs to improve prosecution of these crimes and focus on risks in the nonfinancial sector.  The FIU inspected more than 2,000 suspicious transactions in 2019 but did not report evidence of terrorist financing in Greece.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There were no significant changes in Greece’s CVE efforts since the 2018 report.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Greece is a member of various international bodies and of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

U.S. Department of State

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