- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

NICOSIA, Cyprus — U.S. and Greek security services report close cooperation in the investigation of a grenade attack on the U.S. embassy in Athens, offsetting months of diplomatic squabbling and negative Greek opinion polls about the United States and its policies.

“We have discovered that there is excellent cooperation between Greece and the United States in combating violence and terrorism,” said Giorgios Koumoutsakos, a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Although the perpetrators of the embassy attack are not known, FBI agents have joined a Greek police team in conducting extensive searches in the capital and vicinity, coordinated by the Ministry of Public Order. More than 20,000 cars had been checked by the weekend.

Initial comments by the Greek press ranged from warnings of more attacks to assurances that neither Greek prestige nor relations with the United States had been damaged by the incident.

Although no one was injured in the Jan. 12 attack with a rocket-propelled grenade, it sparked a wave of speculation about security in Greece, a longstanding American concern before the dismantling in 2002 of the terrorist “November 17” organization.

The Greek press is divided on the strength and objectives of the latest attackers, who are thought to belong to a leftist group that calls itself “Revolutionary Struggle.”

Mary Bossis, a Greek analyst on terrorism, described the group as potentially highly dangerous because “it doesn’t have a specific program but has ties to crime syndicates.”

Investigators trace the origins of Revolutionary Struggle to 2003, when a wave of seven attacks with explosive devices caused material damage but no casualties. No member of the organization has been arrested.

The influential Vima daily in Athens said the attack on the embassy was “powerful, audacious and highly symbolic.”

“Unfortunately terrorism is returning, ready to put its dark and damaging stamp on political developments,” the newspaper wrote. But Nikos Konstandaras, a commentator for the Kathimerini daily, dismissed the attack as the work of “certain groups trying to make themselves appear heroic.

There has been little change in opinion polls, which for the past six months have shown persistent opposition to the United States and mistrust of U.S. policies — including its handling of internal issues such as poverty.

“Anti-American sentiment in Greece exists on all social levels and across different age groups, irrespective of ideological and political convictions,” wrote Kathimerini. As reasons it cited U.S. support for the former military junta, the war in Iraq and American support for Turkey, Greece’s historical foe.

Nevertheless, Americans are generally welcomed in Greece and U.S. tourism has been growing the past two years, according to government data.

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