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Anarchists to be targeted as "terrorists" alongside Al Qaeda (pdf file)
01 February 2002
Europol has produced a Situation and Trends report on terrorist activity in the European Union. As might be expected the report covers ETA in Spain, the Real IRA in Northern Ireland, the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica and "Islamic extremist terrorism" (including Al Qaeda). The report stresses that although the number of incidents was "showing a small decrease" the "importance of the attacks increased dramatically" - this was because after 11 September the "European Union is not only a target for terrorist attacks but also an important area for preparatory and logistic purposes in the widest sense". It further notes that progress is taking place in Northern Ireland, and that ceasefires, both in Northern Ireland and Corsica have "been maintained by the main players".
One new category added in 2001 was "eco-terrorism" on which the report gives no examples. The report simply says in total that: "Radical environmentalists and animal rights movements have maintained a limited campaign. Nevertheless, the material damage they caused was extensive". No definition of "eco-terrorism" is given nor is one planned in the proposed extension of Europol's role (see Statewatch's The activities and development of Europol
pamphlet). It is thus hard to see the distinction between activity which might be termed a criminal offence as distinct from a "terrorist" offence.
Another new category which is even more problematic is that of "anarchist terrorism". In February 2001 a Europol seminar on counter-terrorism held in Madrid agreed on a proposal by Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy to set up a joint investigation team on "anarchist terrorism". It appears that after Genoa in July 2001 Europol may have set up an "analysis file" on "anarchist terrorism" which in turn fed through into this Situation report. Interviewed by a German newspaper in August Jurgen Storbeck, Europol's Director, said the so-called "Black Block" of anarchists could be seen as "terrorist or pre-terrorist".
The following analysis looks at the many questions that arise from the inclusion of "anarchist terrorism" which relies almost totally on examples from Italy and at the attempt to extend terrorism in Spain to legitimate political groups.
The report says that "anarchist terrorism" could be a symptom of the possible "resurrection of left wing terrorism" and refers to a series of terrorist attacks "in the southern part of the Union". In fact all the incidents referred to are in Italy, and the report claims that these examples could spark the return of EU-wide "left wing and anarchist terrorism".
This is claimed, by some tortuous logic, to be an EU-wide problem as:
"left wing and anarchist websites in northern European countries cover this [Italian] situation in depth, the possibility of the resurrection of the left wing and anarchist terrorist groups is existent, in which the southern terrorist activity might function as an example"
The report is drawn up by Europol which appears to have rubber-stamped "intelligence" passed to it by member states seeking support for their internal agendas, on the basis of on-going judicial proceedings.
Italy has been investigating numerous anarchists accused of "subversive association" following the G8 summit in Genoa while Spain has been criminalising a number of Basque nationalist groups and left-wing activists by claiming that they are "part of ETA". This led to the inclusion of several Basque groups in the EU list of proscribed organisations and now this situation report.
Anarchists in Italy have been blamed for a spate of minor bomb attacks over the last few years, with links to groups in Spain, Portugal and Greece alleged by the Italian Interior Ministry. In particular, investigating magistrates have been linking investigations into actions attributed to anarchists to the struggle against the dispersal, isolation and h