Terror Attack on US Embassy in Athens
Terrorists fired a rocket from across the street into the US embassy in Athens on Friday morning. The rocket exploded in the bathroom on the third floor but did not cause casualties.
Greek leftist groups have targeted the US embassy and its personnel in the past, and passions run high in Greece against the US role in Iraq, which is generally seen as mere predatory imperialism and capitalist grasping.
Among significant terrorist actions listed by the State Department are below, with a couple of interpolations from the press:
‘ Naval Officer Assassinated in Greece, November 15, 1983: A U.S. Navy officer was shot by the November 17 terrorist group in Athens, Greece, while his car was stopped at a traffic light. . . .
Aircraft Bombing in Greece, March 30, 1986: A Palestinian splinter group detonated a bomb as TWA Flight 840 approached Athens airport, killing four U.S. citizens. . . .
Attack on U.S. Diplomat in Greece, June 28, 1988: The Defense Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Greece was killed when a car-bomb was detonated outside his home in Athens. . .
[In February 1996, unidentified assailants fired a rocket at the US embassy compound in Athens, causing minor damage to three diplomatic vehicles and some surrounding buildings.]
Diplomatic Assassination in Greece, June 8, 2000: In Athens, Greece, two unidentified gunmen killed British Defense Attaché Stephen Saunders in an ambush. The Revolutionary Organization 17 November claimed responsibility. . . ‘
This is not terrorism, but in fall of 2006: ‘ “In November last year, Greek riot police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators marching to the US embassy in Athens who chanted slogans including “Bush the butcher, out of Iraq” and “The USA is the real terrorist” ‘
The November 17 group is a major suspect, even though it was allegedly disbanded. Its members didn’t go anywhere, and their anger over Iraq may have brought them out of retirement.
Just as the London underground (subway) bombings of 7/7/2005 were in some large part impelled by anger over the Iraq War, I am sure that when we know more about the Athens Embassy attack, we will find Iraq at the bottom of it.
The bombings in Madrid and London, and now possibly Athens, give the lie to Bush’s constant refrain that the Iraq War is making us safer. It is the greatest generator of terrorism perhaps ever created. Republican Senators like Frist who make the silly argument that there have been no major al-Qaeda attacks because of the invasion of Iraq are heartlessly insulting the victims of Madrid and London, not to mention of Karbala and Kadhimiya. The continental US is hard for foreign-based terrorists to get at and most of the really dangerous security gaps, like unfortified cockpit doors on airplanes, have been closed. But all US allies are extremely nervous about where this Iraq thing is taking the world, and some of them have dire reasons for concern.
It is of course possible that this attack was the work not of Greek leftists but of Muslim radicals. We’ll see, maybe. But one good lesson implied by the history of such attacks in Greece is that persons of Christian European heritage have engaged in terrorism, and that it is not just Muslims.