ATHENS – Faced with scores of terrorist groups who want to bring down the government and wreak havoc in society, Greece is reportedly turning to the United States for assistance in battling extremists and dealing with irregular immigration.
Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias, a former professional basketball player with no experience in law enforcement, is expected to seek closer cooperation with American intelligence officials when he travels to Washington, D.C. on Oct. 24 for a week of meetings with U.S. officials.
Ministry sources have told Kathimerini that Kikilias hopes to secure Washington’s help in dealing with domestic terrorists and possible jihadists that may pass through Greece with the aim of joining the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria and Iraq.
“Our intention is to ask for assistance with regard to technical equipment that would improve our capability in terms of security and communication,” said a Public Order Ministry official who wished to remain anonymous.
“The American government recognizes the progress that has been made on security matters over the past few months.”
Kikilias is due to hold talks with all of the top security officials in Washington. He is to meet first with Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s adviser on Homeland security issues, including counter-terrorism.
Then he’s due to to meet CIA chief John Brennan, as well as the head of the FBI, James Comey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“We are working closely with the US, as well as Great Britain and Israel, with regard to the exchange of intelligence,” said the ministry source. “Our aim is to strengthen the level of cooperation in this area.”
Kikilias is also scheduled to meet with Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who is Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee and is knowledegable in Greek and Cypriot issues.
Greece this summer arrested Revolutionary Struggle leader Nikos Maziotis after a wild gun battle in a major tourist area in Athens, but his accomplices, including his wife, are still on the loose.
Christodoulos Xeros, a former ringleader of the disbanded November 17 terrorism group, walked away from a Christmas vacation he was given although serving six life sentences for his role in six assassinations, and how vowed a return to violence.