US embassy cable - 89STATE227151

FACT SHEET ON 17 NOVEMBER

Identifier: 89STATE227151
Wikileaks: View 89STATE227151 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1989-07-18 20:04:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PTER GR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 182004Z JUL 89
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY ATHENS IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 227151 
 
E.O. 12356:  N/A 
TAGS:  PTER, GR 
SUBJECT:  FACT SHEET ON 17 NOVEMBER 
 
1. FOLLOWING IS TEXT OF FACT SHEET ON THE REVOLUTIONARY 
ORGANIZATION 17 NOVEMBER WHICH WAS RELEASED PUBLICLY ON 
JULY 6.  COPIES OF THE FACT SHEET BEING POUCHED TO POST 
ALSO INCLUDE TWO CHARTS DEPICTING THE NUMBERS OF 
TERRORIST ATTACKS BY YEAR FROM 1975-86, AND THE TYPES OF 
TARGETS FOR THESE ATTACKS (US MILITARY, US DIPLOMATS 
GREEK POLICE, GREEK BUSINESSMEN, ETC.) 

2. BEGIN TEXT. 

ACTIVE AND LETHAL 

GREECE'S "REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION 17 NOVEMBER" IS 
PRESENTLY ONE OF THE MORE ACTIVE AND LETHAL TERRORIST 

GROUPS TARGETTING AMERICANS IN WESTERN EUROPE. AND 
FREQUENTLY ATTACKS GREEK CITIZENS AS WELL.  SUCCESSIVE 
GREEK GOVERNMENTS HAVE YET TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN 
APPREHENDING ANY MEMBER OF THE GROUP. 

SINCE ITS INITIAL APPEARANCE WITH THE DECEMBER 1975 
ASSASSINATION OF U.S. DIPLOMAT RICHARD WELCH IN ATHENS, 
THE GROUP HAS CARRIED OUT 29 ATTACKS -- ALL IN 
ATHENS.     SEVEN OF THESE ATTACKS HAVE BEEN AGAINST 
U.S. TARGETS IN WHICH 17 NOVEMBER KILLED THREE 
AMERICANS, WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR TWO ATTEMPTED 
ASSASSINATIONS, AND INJURED 26 AMERICANS IN THE BOMBINGS 
OF TWO MILITARY BUSES. 

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES, MULTIPLE BUT RELATED 
ATTACKS -- SUCH AS THE FEBRUARY 1989 BOMBINGS OF THREE 
UNOCCUPIED RESIDENCES -- ARE COUNTED AS SEPARATE 
INCIDENTS. 

VERY LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT THE GROUP'S MEMBERSHIP, ITS 
INTERNAL DYNAMICS, OR ITS OPERATIONAL CAPABILITIES. 
SINCE 1975, 17 NOVEMBER HAS AVERAGED JUST OVER TWO 
ATTACKS A YEAR MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN INFORMATION 
ON THE GROUP EXCEPT THROUGH ITS COMMUNIQUES AND ITS 
CHOICE OF TARGETS. 
 

NEW TACTICS AND TARGETTING 

FOLLOWING THE FEBRUARY 21, 1985 ASSASSINATION OF GREEK 
PUBLISHER NIKOS MOMFERATOS, 17 NOVEMBER MOVED INTO A NEW 
OPERATIONAL PHASE.  WHILE THERE WERE ONLY FIVE ATTACKS 
IN THE FIRST TEN YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE (THREE OF THESE 
AGAINST AMERICANS), THE SECOND AND CURRENT PHASE IS 
CHARACTERIZED BY A HIGHER LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION AS 
WELL AS AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER AND LETHALITY OF 
ATTACKS. 
 
IN THIS SECOND PHASE, 17 NOVEMBER HAS CARRIED OUT 24 
ATTACKS, KILLING SEVEN PEOPLE AND INJURING 43, INCLUDING 
ITS LASTEST ATTACK, THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF 
FORMER MINISTER OF PUBLIC ORDER GEORGE PETSOS ON MAY 8, 
1989 IN WHICH PETSOS AND TWO BODY GUARDS WERE WOUNDED. 
THIS PERIOD OF JUST OVER FOUR YEARS ACCOUNTS FOR 83 
PERCENT OF THE GROUP'S OPERATIONS SINCE ITS FIRST 
APPEARANCE IN 1975. 

ALTHOUGH 17 NOVEMBER CARRIED OUT NO BOMBINGS DURING ITS 
FIRST PHASE, THE GROUP HAS CARRIED OUT 16 BOMBINGS AND 
TWO ATTEMPTED BOMBINGS IN ITS SECOND PHASE, INCLUDING 
FIVE REMOTE- AND ONE WIRE-DETONATED BOMB ATTACKS (FOUR 
OF THESE BEING DIRECTED AGAINST U.S. TARGETS).  THESE 
BOMBINGS RESULTED IN TWO DEATHS AND 43 INJURIES 
(INCLUDING ONE U.S. MILITARY OFFICER DEAD AND 26 OTHER 
AMERICANS INJURED). 

ALSO DURING THIS PERIOD, 17 NOVEMBER ASSASSINATED TWO 
GREEK INDUSTRIALISTS, CARRIED OUT THREE ARMED 
ASSAULTS/KNEE-CAPPINGS, AND SEIZED A SUBURBAN POLICE 
STATION, MAKING OFF WITH A SMALL ARSENAL OF WEAPONS. 
THE INCREASE IN TERRORIST ATTACKS MAY BE ATTRIBUTED IN 
PART TO THE RECRUITMENT OF NEW AND YOUNGER MEMBERS WHO 
HAVE CONVINCED THE LEADERSHIP THAT THE GROUP'S GOALS AND 
OBJECTIVES CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED BY PERIODIC 
ASSASSINATIONS ONLY. 

DESPITE THIS INCREASE IN TERRORIST ACTIVITY, 17 NOVEMBER 
APPEARS TO BE LIMITED IN THE NUMBER OF ATTACKS IT CAN 
CARRY OUT IN ANY GIVEN YEAR.  MORE ATTACKS WOULD MEAN 
EXPANDING THE SIZE OF THE ORGANIZATION, WHICH COULD RUN 
THE RISK OF COMPROMISING ITS INTERNAL SECURITY.  SINCE 
17 NOVEMBER IS BELIEVED TO BE A SINGLE TERRORIST ENTITY 
RATHER THAN A GROUP COMPRISED OF MANY OPERATIONAL CELLS, 
IT CANNOT CARRY OUT AS MANY ATTACKS AS A LARGER GROUP. 
THIS LIMITS THE GROUP'S POTENTIAL ACTIVITIES AS THE MORE 
ATTACKS IT CARRIES OUT, THE GREATER THE CHANCES OF IT 
BEING CAUGHT. 

 
SOPHISTICATED WEAPONRY 

17 NOVEMBER'S RECENT USE OF REMOTE-CONTROLLED EXPLOSIVES 
INCREASES THE SERIOUS SECURITY CONCERN IT POSES FOR BOTH 
GREEKS AND AMERICANS.  THE NOVEMBER 26, 1985 ATTACK ON A 
GREEK POLICE BUS TRANSPORTING (MAT) RIOT POLICEMEN WAS 
THE FIRST TIME THAT THE GROUP USED SUCH A DEVICE, 
WOUNDING THIRTEEN OF THE 22 POLICEMEN ON BOARD. ONE OF 
WHOM LATER DIED OF HIS WOUNDS.  A REMOTE-DETONATED CAR 
BOMB WAS USED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF THE U.S. DEFENSE 
ATTACHE, NAVY CAPTAIN WILLIAM NORDEEN, ON JUNE 28, 
1988.  MOST RECENTLY, ANOTHER REMOTE-DETONATED CAR BOMB 
INJURED FORMER MINISTER OF PUBLIC ORDER GEORGE PETSOS 
AND TWO BODY GUARDS ON MAY 8, 1989. 

WITH THE USE OF REMOTELY-CONTROLLED EXPLOSIVES, 17 
NOVEMBER HAS BECOME A HIGHLY LETHAL TERRORIST 
ORGANIZATION.  THESE DEVICES ARE PROVEN CAPABLE OF 
CAUSING MAJOR DESTRUCTION, EVEN AGAINST ARMORED 
VEHICLES, THUS RENDERING PROTECTIVE DEFENSES 
INADEQUATE.THE AUGUST 1988 ATTACK ON A SUBURBAN POLICE 
STATION DEMONSTRATES THAT 17 NOVEMBER IS CAPABLE OF 
MOUNTING A SOPHISTICATED TERRORIST ATTACK USING SEVERAL 
OPERATIVES AGAINST A SECURE SITE.  THE ATTACK NETTED THE 
GROUP ADDITIONAL HIGH-POWERED WEAPONRY WHICH MIGHT BE 
USED IN FUTURE LETHAL ATTACKS. 
 
 
BACKGROUND AND IDEOLOGY 

THE GROUP TAKES ITS NAME FROM THE DATE IN 1973 WHEN THE 
GREEK JUNTA SENT RIOT POLICE BACKED BY TANKS INTO THE 
ATHENS POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE TO STOP AN OCCUPATION BY 
STUDENTS DEMANDING AN END TO MILITARY RULE.  AT LEAST 20 
PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND 200 PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN THE 
INCIDENT.  THIS EVENT GALVANIZED PUBLIC DISSATISFACTION 
WITH THE MILITARY REGIME AND SERVED AS A PRELUDE FOR A 
SERIES OF EVENTS THAT EVENTUALLY LED TO ITS DOWNFALL IN 
JULY 1974. ITS COMMUNIQUES OVER THE YEARS SHOW 17 
NOVEMBER TO BE A VIOLENT MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANIZATION 
THAT IS DOCTRINALLY ANTI-CAPITALIST, ANTI-U.S. AND 
ANTI-NATO. 

THE GROUP HAS ALSO BEEN VERY CRITICAL OF THE GREEK 
GOVERNMENT FOR NOT ADDRESSING A NUMBER OF ISSUES THAT IT 
VIEWS AS INIMICAL TO GREEK INTERESTS, SUCH AS THE 
SITUATION IN CYPRUS, THE GREECE-TURKEY RAPPROACHMENT, 
THE PRESENCE OF U.S. BASES, AND GREEK MEMBERSHIP IN THE 
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION (NATO) AND THE 
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY (EC).  17 NOVEMBER ALSO 
VIEWS ITSELF AS THE "VANGUARD OF THE WORKING CLASS."  IT 
IS QUICK TO REACT TO DOMESTIC ISSUES -- TAXES, LABOR, 
HIGH MEDICAL COSTS -- WHICH ARE OF IMMEDIATE CONCERN TO 
THE GREEK PEOPLE.  FOR THESE REASONS, NEARLY TWO-THIRDS 
OF ITS ATTACKS HAVE BEEN AGAINST GREEK TARGETS. 

ORGANIZATION 

17 NOVEMBER'S ORGANIZATION MAY BE SIMILAR TO OTHER 
LEFT-WING EUROPEAN TERRORIST GROUPS SUCH AS WEST 
GERMANY'S RED ARMY FACTION RAF) AND FRANCE.S ACTION 
DIRECT (AD).  IT IS A SMALL, HIGHLY-DISCIPLINED GROUP 
WHOSE "HARD CORE" MEMBERS PROBABLY NUMBER NO MORE THAN 
20 PEOPLE.  IT IS NOT CLEAR HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE, BUT 
JUDGING FROM SIMILAR RADICAL GROUPS IN WEST EUROPE, THEY 
ARE PROBABLY COLLECTIVE. 

THE GROUP'S HARD CORE MEMBERS MAY HAVE BEEN UNIVERSITY 
STUDENTS DURING THE 1970.S IN GREECE, AND POSSIBLY WERE 
INVOLVED IN THE CAMPUS ACTIVITY THAT HELPED BRING ABOUT 

THE FALL OF THE MILITARY JUNTA.  TODAY, THIS HARD CORE 
WOULD HAVE REACHED THEIR LATE 30'S AND EARLY 40'S, SOME 
COULD EVEN BE HOLDING PROFESSIONAL JOBS SUCH AS LAWYERS, 
JOURNALISTS AND TEACHERS.  IF THESE MEMBERS ARE INDEED 
"PART-TIME" TERRORISTS (AS OPPOSED TO TERRORISTS WHO 
LIVE TOTALLY UNDERGROUND), IT WOULD ENHANCE THE VEIL OF 
SECRECY OVER 17 NOVEMBER'S ORGANIZATION. 

ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF TIES TO FOREIGN 
TERRORIST GROUPS, 17 NOVEMBER MAY BE AFFILIATED WITH THE 
REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE (ELA), BELIEVED TO BE A 
LOOSE COALITION OF VIOLENT, EXTREME LEFTIST GROUPS IN 
GREECE. 

FUTURE PROSPECTS 

IN CONTRAST TO OTHER WEST EUROPEAN TERRORIST GROUPS, 17 
NOVEMBER HAS NEVER TARGETED A CURRENT HIGH-RANKING GREEK 
GOVERNMENT OR MILITARY OFFICIAL, ALTHOUGH IT DID ATTEMPT 
TO KILL A FORMER PUBLIC ORDER MINISTER.  THE GROUP MAY 
FEEL THAT THE TIME IS NOT RIGHT FOR AN ATTACK ON A 
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GOVERNING SYSTEM AND THAT IT IS 
NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO WITHSTAND THE REPERCUSSIONS THAT 
WOULD FOLLOW.  17 NOVEMBER HAS ALSO NEVER CARRIED OUT AN 
ATTACK AGAINST NON-OFFICIAL AMERICANS OR THEIR OFFICES, 
WHETHER TOURISTS OR BUSINESSMEN, NOR HAS IT PROMINENTLY 
MENTIONED A U.S. COMPANY IN ITS COMMUNIQUES -- PERHAPS 
INDICATING THAT TARGETING U.S. FIRMS IS NOT CURRENTLY A 
HIGH PRIORITY, ALTHOUGH THIS TOO COULD CHANGE. 

THE SERIOUS THREAT BY 17 NOVEMBER TO OFFICIAL U.S. 
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES IN GREECE, HOWEVER, CONTINUES 
UNCHECKED.  IN THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF ITS COMMUNIQUE 
FOLLOWING THE JUNE 1988 ASSASSINATION OF CAPTAIN 
NORDEEN, 17 NOVEMBER RATIONALIZED ITS ACTIONS SAYING 
THAT AMERICAN MILITARY FORCES IN THE COUNTRY WERE AN 
OCCUPATION FORCE, AND:  WE ARE GOING TO HIT ANYBODY WHO 
IS A MEMBER OF IT OR AN AGENT OF ITS SECRET SERVICES. 
THESE ACTIONS ARE GOING TO CONTINUE AND ARE GOING TO 
INCREASE UNTIL THE LAST TURKISH SOLDIER LEAVES CYPRUS 
AND THE LAST AMERICAN SOLDIER LEAVES OUR COUNTRY. 

                   17 NOVEMBER 
         CHRONOLOGY OF ATTACKS IN ATHENS 

1976 

     DECEMBER 23    THE REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION 
                    17 NOVEMBER, A PREVIOUSLY 

                    UNKNOWN GROUP, CLAIMED CREDIT 
                    FOR ASSASSINATING U.S. DIPLOMAT 
                    RICHARD WELCH OUTSIDE HIS HOME. 

1976 

     DECEMBER 14    EVANGELOS MALLIOS, A FORMER 
                    POLICE CAPTAIN DURING THE GREEK 
                    MILITARY JUNTA (1967-74), WAS 
                    SHOT AND FATALLY WOUNDED BY A 
                    LONE GUNMAN WHILE WALKING HOME, 
                    DYING FOUR HOURS LATER IN 
                    SURGERY. 

1980 

     JANUARY 16     MAJOR GENERAL PANTELIS PETROU, 
                    DEPUTY COMMANDER OF THE ATHENS 
                    RIOT POLICE (MAT) AND FORMER 
                    INTELLIGENCE OFFICER DURING THE 
                    GREEK MILITARY JUNTA, AND HIS 
                    DRIVER WERE SHOT AND KILLED 
                    WHILE DRIVING HOME FROM WORK 
                    AFTER THREE MEN IN A CAR FORCED 
                    PETROU'S CAR TO STOP. 

1983 

     NOVEMBER 15    U.S. NAVY CAPTAIN GEORGE TSANTES 
                    AND HIS GREEK DRIVER NIKOLAOS 
                    VELOUTSOS WERE SHOT AND KILLED 
                    WHEN TSANTES' CAR WAS STOPPED AT 
                    A TRAFFIC LIGHT.  TWO MEN ON A 
                    MOTOCYCLE PULLED ALONGSIDE 
                    TSANTES'S CAR AND SHOT BOTH MEN. 

1984 

     APRIL 3        U.S. ARMY MASTER SERGEANT ROBERT 
                    H. JUDD, JR. WAS ATTACKED BY TWO 
                    MEN ON A MOTORCYCLE WHILE 
                    STOPPED AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT.  THE 
                    ATTACKERS HAD PULLED UP 
                    ALONGSIDE JUDD.S CAR AND FIRED 
                    FIVE ROUNDS AT HIM.  JUDD WAS 
                    ABLE TO TAKE EVASIVE ACTION AND 
                    ESCAPED WITH ONLY MINOR INJURIES. 

1985 

     FEBRUARY 21    NIKOS MOMFERATOS, PUBLISHER OF 
                    GREECE'S LARGEST CONSERVATIVE 
                    NEWSPAPER APOGEVMATINI 
                    (AFTERNOONER), AND HIS DRIVER 
                    WERE SHOT AND KILLED BY TWO 
                    GUNMEN WHO OPENED FIRE AS 
                    MOMFERATOS. CAR SLOWED DOWN TO 
                    MAKE A LEFT TURN. 

     NOVEMBER 26    THIRTEEN (MAT) RIOT POLICEMEN 
                    WERE INJURED, ONE LATER DIED, AS 
                    A POWERFUL CAR BOMB EXPLODED AS 
                    THEIR POLICE BUS PASSED BY. 

1986 

     APRIL 8        DEMITRIOS ANGELOPOULOS  A GREEK 
                    STEEL MAGNATE, WAS SHOT AND 
                    KILLED BY A LONE GUNMAN WHILE 
                    WALKING TO WORK. 

     OCTOBER 5      FOUR SEPARATE GOVERNMENT TAX 
                    OFFICES LOCATED AROUND ATHENS 
                    WERE BOMBED IN THE EARLY MORNING 
                    HOURS.  NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE 
                    EXPLOSIONS. 

1987 

     FEBRUARY 4     DR. ZACHARIAS KAPSALAKIS, WHO 
                    WAS LEAVING HIS OFFICE WITH HIS 
                    WIFE, WAS ATTACKED BY TWO MEN 
                    WHO APPROACHED AND SHOT HIM 
                    SEVERAL TIMES IN THE STOMACH AND 
                    LEGS.  (THIS ATTACK MARKED A 
                    DEPARTURE FROM PAST 17 NOVEMBER 
                    ARMED ASSAULTS SINCE THE VICTIM 
                    PURPOSELY WAS NOT KILLED.) 

     APRIL 24       SIXTEEN AMERICANS AND TWO GREEK 
                    CITIZENS WERE INJURED WHEN A 
                    BOMB EXPLODED IN FRONT OF A 
                    MILITARY BUS CARRYING U.S. 
                    SERVICEMEN. 

     AUGUST 10      TEN AMERICANS AND TWO GREEK 

                    CITIZENS WERE INJURED WHEN A CAR 
                    BOMB EXPLODED AS A U.S. MILITARY 
                    BUS PASSED BY. 

1988 

     JANUARY 22     AN ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE A DEA 
                    AGENT IN ATHENS WITH A 
                    REMOTE-DETONATED BOMB 
                    FAILED WHEN THE TERRORIST 
                    RESPONSIBLE FOR DETONATING THE 
                    DEVICE WAS FRIGHTENED OFF BY A 
                    PASSER-BY. 

     MARCH 1        GREEK INDUSTRIALIST ALEXANDROS 
                    ATHANASIADIS WAS SHOT AND 
                    FATALLY WOUNDED BY AN ASSASSIN 
                    ON A MOTORCYCLE. 

     MAY 23         ATTEMPTS TO ASSASSINATE FOUR 
                    TURKISH DIPLOMATS WITH BOMBS 
                    PLACED UNDER THEIR CARS FAILED. 
                    TWO OF THE BOMBS EXPLODED WITH 
                    NO CASUALTIES, WHILE TWO OTHERS 
                    WERE DISCOVERED AND DESTROYED. 

     JUNE 28        THE U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE, NAVY 
                    CAPTAIN WILLIAM NORDEEN, WAS 
                    ASSASSINATED IN A 
                    REMOTE-DETONATED CAR BOMB 
                    EXPLOSION. 

     AUGUST 15      AN ATHENS SUBURBAN POLICE 
                    STATION WAS SEIZED BY 17 
                    NOVEMBER TERRORISTS.  THE POLICE 
                    OFFICERS WERE TIED UP AND A 
                    SMALL ARSENAL OF WEAPONS WERE 
                    TAKEN. 

1989 

     JANUARY 10     17 NOVEMBER CLAIMED CREDIT FOR 
                    SEPARATE 
     JANUARY 18     SHOOTING ATTACKS WHICH WOUNDED 
                    TWO GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORS, ONE 
                    OF WHOM LATER DIED FROM 
                    COMPLICATIONS STEMMING FROM HIS 
                    INJURIES.  (A THIRD GOVERNMENT 
                    PROSECUTOR WAS KILLED LATER IN 

                    JANUARY BY THE 1ST OF MAY GROUP, 
                    WHICH MAY BE LINKED TO 17 
                    NOVEMBER.) 

     FEBRUARY 22    THREE UNOCCUPIED RESIDENCES WERE 
                    BOMBED TO CALL ATTENTION TO HIGH 
                    HOUSING COSTS. 

     MAY 8          FORMER MINISTER OF PUBLIC ORDER 
                    GEORGE PETSOS, ALONG WITH TWO 
                    BODY GUARDS, WERE INJURED IN A 
                    REMOTE-DETONATED CAR BOMB 
                    EXPLOSION. 

                     //END// 

       THE OFFICE OF THE COORDINATOR FOR 
     COUNTER-TERRORISM APPRECIATES THE ASSISTANCE OF 
     THE THREAT ANALYSIS DIVISION OF THE BUREAU OF 
     DIPLOMATIC SECURITY WHICH COMPILED THIS 
     REPORT.  END OF TEXT. BAKER 
 
 
UNCLASSIFIED 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04