Overview: The Greek government remained a highly collaborative CT partner in 2021. Consistent with its responsibilities as a participant in the Visa Waiver Program, Greece operationalized its Passenger Information Unit by presidential decree and has implemented screening of air passengers in accordance with international standards. Greece also passed legislation in accordance with an EU directive on combating money laundering by means of criminal law, as well as a law denying furloughs and preventing early release of convicted terrorists.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Greece in 2021.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, Border Security: On July 9, the Greek Parliament passed legislation transposing, inter alia, EU Directive 2018/1673 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on combating money laundering by criminal law. Greece also passed legislation denying furloughs to those serving in minimum security prisons and early release for convicted terrorists. The creation of the Passenger Information Unit (PIU) as the fifth department in the intelligence division of the Hellenic Police has been successful. The adoption of Automated Targeting System-Global (ATS-G), including access to U.S.-sourced terrorism screening data, constitutes a significant border security upgrade. The PIU began receiving airline data from almost two dozen airlines in 2021 and expects to add an additional 12 airlines soon. Since Greece’s national identification card remains vulnerable to alteration and photo substitution, Greek authorities moved forward in the process to provide citizens with biometric-enabled ID cards. Five consortia bid on the Ministry of Citizen Protection’s $566 million tender for an integrated online system for security documents, including the new ID cards. The tender is stuck in a drawn-out process and legal challenges by some companies; however, it is expected that new ID cards will be issued in the next two years.
Greek authorities carried out many arrests in 2021, including the following:
- A senior ISIS member was arrested in July in Greece, with Morocco’s help. The suspect, a Moroccan national known as Abu Muhammad al-Fateh, had joined ISIS in Syria, after 2014, before later escaping to Greece.
- On July 21, Greek authorities arrested Christos Pappas, the deputy leader of the now-defunct neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, in central Athens. He was arrested not for terrorism, but for criminal conspiracy.
- On October 4, Greek authorities arrested a suspected jihadist in Athens. The 34-year-old Iraqi was charged with being a member of ISIS.
- On December 23, authorities in Athens arrested a 40-year-old Iraqi man who was suspected of running a kind of “travel agency” for ISIS members looking to enter Greece and Europe.
- There also were several domestic terrorism arrests, such as anarchists, including from the Revolutionary Self-Defense Force.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Greece is a member of FATF. Its FIU, the Anti-Money Laundering Counterterrorist Financing and Source of Funds Investigation Authority, is a member of the Egmont Group.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2021, Greece continued to implement a law passed in 2020 to create a new division to prevent violent extremism, reporting directly to the Minister of Citizen Protection.
International and Regional Cooperation: Greece is a member of various international bodies. Greece also acts as a regional leader and is a willing partner in sharing its counterterrorism experiences with its neighboring countries, particularly those in the Western Balkans.