- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Greek authorities are blaming a shadowy far-left group called the "Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei" for a series of attempted mail bombings against prominent European political leaders which has forced the country to shut down international mail service and have arrested two of its members. But what do we actually know about the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei, or as they’re sometimes less dorkily called, the Conspiracy of the Fire Cells?
Little is known about the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, which first emerged in early 2008, six years after Greek police dismantled the country’s notorious left-wing November 17 terror group. The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei has been known for nonlethal bomb attacks around Athens despite the arrests of several of its members—most of them in their 20s—in the past two years. The group is seen as anti-authoritarian and the most recent targets may reflect their opposition to Greece’s fiscal austerity program after a European Union sponsored €110 billion ($154 billion) bailout package this year.
Wikipedia has a run-down of their past targets, a somewhat random-seeming assortment including a former justice minister, several automobile dealerships, Agence France Presse, a neo-Nazi party, a Pakistani community leader, the Greek Parliament and the embassies of Mexico, Bulgaria, Chile, and Germany. They don’t seem to have ever killed someone, thankfully.
On his website, former Athens-based Foreign Service Officer John Brady Kiesling has an interesting piece on the group in which he takes a stab and pinpointing their ideology:
Arrested SPF suspect Masouras produced (or parroted) SPF’s early strand of Nietzschean pseudo-philosophy:
"We execute morality, prefacing catastrophe, whispering rabidly, biting the words: WAR ATTACK because only beauty and strength exist, but the cowards to balance [them] invented justice." (Masouras’s 10/09 letter to Indymedia)
Recent SPF proclamations have been longer, less immature, and more revolutionary in content, suggesting a new sense of collective responsibility in response to the belief, fueled by the economic crisis, that Greece has entered or will soon enter a "revolutionary period." Both in tactics (symbolic bomb attacks on buildings) and rhetoric the group is slowly evolving to resemble Revolutionary Struggle (EA) or Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), both of which were uneasy coalitions between communist theoreticians and anarchist/anti-authority bombers
I’m curious as to why 70s style leftist and anarchist militancy seems to have been preserved in Greece while it has mostly (though not entirely) away in most other European countries.
Also worth checking out, the website Anarchist News has compiled a most excellent list of names of Greek anarchist groups, including CFN. (I can’t confirm that any of these are actually real.) My personal favorites:
- Summer Entropy Commandos
- Arsonists with dirty consciousness
- Immediate Intervention Hood-wearers
- Council for the de-structualization of Order
- Destroyers of whatever is left of social peace
- Nikola Tesla Commandos