Greek anti-terror police arrested 11 members of an armed neo-Nazi group in Athens and two other cities on March 7 after suspecting the gang of plotting terror attacks around the country.
Identified as ‘Combat 18’ and ‘the Autonome Nationalists’, the members are suspected of attacking migrants and left-wing activists, while also planning a major bomb attack after the anti-terror squad found 50 kilogrammes of the bomb-making material ammonium nitrate in one of the raids around Athens.
Combat 18 is an extremist right-wing armed militant group that originated in Britain and has spread to other European countries. The number 18 refers to Adolf Hitler’s initials – the first and eighth letters of the Latin alphabet. Greece’s counter-terrorism police had been tracking their activities for several months after a spat of right-wing attacks in Greek cities over the last year, according to police sources.
The police raids in Athens neighbourhoods of Nea Smyrni, Vari, and Menidi seized a large weapons cache, Molotov cocktails, extremist propaganda, rifles, and bomb-making components. Both in Athens and Thessaloniki,
Far-right attacks on left-wing activists, migrants, anarchist squats, and Jewish memorials in Athens and Thessaloniki have increased in recent months, with the last attack occurring on February 22 in Piraeus, where five people were severely injured. In September 2015, the neo-Nazi group carried out its most brazen attack, hitting the ruling SYRIZA party’s offices in central Athens.
Combat 18 and the Autonome Nationalists have deep ideological connections with their more well-known Fascist predecessor, Golden Dawn. Several Golden Dawn party members have left the group and formed more extreme armed splinter groups after the Golden Dawn became more public and mainstream.
At least 70 Golden Dawn party officials and MPs await trial for murders and carrying out extremist attacks.