- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 25, 2001

Has Greece become a danger zone for Americans and American businesses? So it would seem. The latest incident is a bomb explosion outside an American Express bank branch in a suburb of Athens. So far no arrests, and no claims of responsibility. That's nothing new. In Greece, assassination of Americans and attacks on American property have become routine. Most recently, terrorists bombarded the U.S. embassy in central Athens and assassinated the British defense attache. Earlier, attempts on the lives of the Dutch and German ambassadors were made. Within the last 25 years, there have been assassinations of an American diplomat and three American military officers and life-threatening attacks on 30 other U.S. officials. During this reign of terror, there have been no arrests, no suspects and no convictions.
If the Greek government has granted terrorists immunity, the rest of the civilized world has a problem: Athens will be the scene of the Olympics in 2004. Are we going to witness a tragedy like the one on Sept. 5, 1972, at the Munich Olympics, when 11 Israeli athletes were assassinated by a Palestinian terrorist group that called itself Black September, a covert unit of the Palestine Liberation Organization? All competing athletes, especially American athletes, are potential targets of the so-called November 17, a terrorist organization that surfaced in 1975 to commemorate suppression of a student uprising by an earlier military dictatorship.
We have the word of a former U.S. ambassador to Athens, Thomas Niles, who told the New York Times that there are links between Greece's ruling political elite and November 17. He said he had given Greek authorities a list of potential suspects linked to the terrorist organization, a Marxist-Leninist group with sympathizers including ''prominent members of Greek society.''
November 17 is an equal opportunity terrorist network; scores of Greek citizens have also been assassinated. Last year, there were 100 political bombings. November 17 uses high explosives, mortars and rocket grenades, mostly stolen from Greek police and military arsenals. Same story: no arrests, no suspects, no convictions and no serious investigations.
Wayne Merry a former State and Pentagon official who worked in Athens tried in vain to get the Greek government to do something about this reign of terrorism. "The chances the terrorists will be caught," he writes in the Weekly Standard, "are very low, but the chances for more American victims are high."
There is no question that American athletes and tourists will be targeted by November 17. The Greek government has demonstrated that it is incapable of stopping these criminals. Two years ago, former CIA Director James Woolsey and Ambassador L. Paul Bremmer III, who headed a congressional inquiry into fighting terrorism, suggested that Greece be put on the list of countries facing sanctions for failing to do anything about November 17. The Bush administration should seriously consider pressing to move the Olympics to a country where Americans will be safer than they will be in Athens.


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