Yet Greece is one of the most expensive countries worldwide for the personal security of foreign dignitaries and their families. According to US Ambassador Nick Burns, America spends more on security in Athens than anywhere else. The US Department of State notes that in 1999 the number of anti-US terrorist attacks in Greece ranked second only to Columbia. Last year there were more than one hundred politically motivated bombings – most of them small, but significant enough to appear like practice runs.
Last June in the Athens morning rush hour, organisation 17 November (17N) gunned down British Defence Attaché, Brigadier Stephen Saunders. The killers melted away on their stolen motorbike. The following day they admitted responsibility through the media, where they traditionally justify themselves and could expect until now, at worst, low key criticism rather than journalistic investigation.