Christodoulos Xiros releases video manifesto pledging to wage war against 'those who stole our lives and sold our dreams'
A still from Christodoulos Xiros's video manifesto. Photograph: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP
Two weeks after going underground, a convicted member of November 17, once Greece's deadliest terror group, has vowed to return to armed action, reigniting fears of a resurgence of political violence.
In a video manifesto released on Monday, Christodoulos Xiros, who was serving multiple life sentences when he vanished on furlough from prison, pledged to wage war against all those he claimed were destroying the debt-stricken country.
"I've once again decided to make the guerrilla rifle resound against those who stole our lives and sold our dreams to make a profit," said the 52-year-old, one of November 17's chief assassins until his arrest in 2002.
"It is our job to light the fuse. What are we waiting for? If we don't react immediately, now, today, we will cease to exist as people."
Against a backdrop of pictures depicting Che Guevara, a communist second world war resistance fighter and heroes of Greece's war of independence, the escapee called on leftists and anarchists to bridge their differences and unite against the judiciary, police, state and media.
"The price of [the government's] treason is death," he railed, claiming that the two-party ruling coalition in Athens had allowed twice bailed out Greece to become a colony "under German occupation".
He added: "If we ever meet again, which I don't hope (and neither should you) you would do well to kill me. Because if you take me captive again, I will leave again to fight you to the end."
Xiros's ability to elude authorities after being granted temporary leave from the high-security Korydallos prison over the new year has caused acute embarrassment for the Greek government. He disappeared while visiting his family in Halkida, northern Greece. According to his father, a Greek Orthodox priest, his last words were: "I'm going out for a walk on the beach."
Until its dismantlement, the Marxist-Leninist November 17 was regarded as one of the world's most dangerous terror organisations. US, British and Turkish diplomats were among its 23 victims during a 27-year campaign.
One of 19 to be unmasked as members of the gang, along with two of his brothers, Xiros was among the few to remain behind bars. In the wake of his failure to report to authorities, revelations have emerged of all-night parties in the prison and of Xiros having been able not only to move freely between wards but to exchange plans and knowhow with other convicted terrorists.
"It is unbelievable that of the 19 ultimately arrested in connection with November 17, a group that killed so many people and caused so much trouble for this country, only five should still be in prison," said Mary Bossi, professor of international security at the University of Pireaus.
"The government should be very worried. For the first time ever we have a jihadi-style statement being made by a man who says, clearly, he is prepared to sacrifice himself for the cause. It is clear that Xiros has had contact with Greece's new generation of terror gangs who are well-armed, have close ties to organised crime and do not care if innocent bystanders are killed along the way."