Revolutionary Organization 17 November

Revolutionary Organization 17 November (Greek: Επαναστατική Οργάνωση 17 Νοέμβρη, Epanastatiki Organosi dekaefta Noemvri), also known as 17N or the 17 November Group, was a Greek far-left urban guerrilla organization formed in 1975 and led by Alexandros Giotopoulos. 17N conducted an extensive urban guerrilla campaign against the Greek state, banks, and businesses, as well as American, Turkish, and British targets.[2][3][4][5] The organization committed 103 known armed robberies, assassinations, and bombing attacks, during which 23 people were killed.[6] 17N was designated a terrorist group by Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States,[citation needed] and disbanded in 2002 after the arrest and trial of many of its members.[citation needed]

Revolutionary Organization 17 November
Επαναστατική Οργάνωση 17 Νοέμβρη
LeaderAlexandros Giotopoulos, Dimitris Koufontinas
Other members: Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vasilis Xiros, Vasilis Tzortzatos
Dates of operation1975–2002
Active regionsGreece
Left-wing nationalism
Major actionsAssassinations, Kidnappings, Property Damage, Robbery
Means of revenueBank robbery
Designated as a terrorist group byGreece, Turkey, US, UK


The group's name, 17N, refers to the final day of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising, in which a protest against the Greek Military Junta (1967–1974), also known as the Regime of the Colonels, took place. The uprising was bloodily suppressed by the army.[citation needed]

In addition to assassinations, kidnappings, and symbolic attacks on corporate and government offices, 17N supported its operations with at least 11 bank robberies, netting approximately US$3.5 million. Members of 17N kept detailed financial records, found in one of their safe houses in 2002, to document that the stolen money was used for revolutionary purposes.[citation needed]



17N's first attack, on 23 December 1975, was against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Athens, Richard Welch. Welch was gunned down outside his residence by three assailants, in front of his wife and driver.[7]:67 17N's repeated claims of responsibility were ignored until the 25 December 1976, when it murdered the former Intelligence Chief of the Greek security police, convicted of torturing political prisoners, Evangelos Mallios,[8] and left its proclamation[clarification needed] at the scene.[citation needed]


In January 1980, 17N murdered Pantelis Petrou, the deputy director of the riot police (MAT) and former intelligence officer during the junta,[citation needed] and his driver. It also intervened with two long proclamations offering theoretical guidance to the Greek armed struggle and criticizing a rival group,[citation needed] Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), for poor target selection and operational incompetence.[citation needed]

17N resumed its attacks in November 1983, killing the deputy chief of the Joint United States Military Aid Group to Greece George Tsantes. In 1985, it broadened its targeting with the murder of conservative newspaper publisher Nikos Momferatos. The proclamation left near his body accused Momferatos of CIA connections and complained that Greece "remained a puppet regime in the hands of the American imperialists and the economic establishment." In 1986, 17N murdered Dimitris Angelopoulos, one of Greece's leading industrialists, charging that he and other members of Greece's "lumpen big bourgeoisie class" were plundering Greece at the expense of workers.[citation needed]

17N responded to the 1988 George Koskotas scandal with a wave of murders and kidnappings. In the 1989 parliamentary elections, 17N urged voters to deface their ballots with the 17N star.[citation needed] The assassination of New Democracy member of parliament Pavlos Bakoyannis in September 1989 prompted public outrage, including among Greek communists who respected Bakoyannis as a courageous anti-Junta journalist.[citation needed] The group abandoned its electoral pretensions and took a more nationalist turn.[citation needed]

Other victims included US Navy Captain William Nordeen, the U.S. defense attache, whose car was destroyed by a car bomb a few meters from his residence on 28 June 1988,[citation needed] and U.S. Air Force Sergeant Ronald O. Stewart, who was killed by a remotely-detonated bomb outside his apartment on 12 March 1991.[citation needed]

In addition to its anti-capitalist agenda, the group was also opposed to NATO and Turkey. Çetin Görgü, the Turkish press attaché, was shot in his car on 7 October 1991; Ömer Haluk Sipahioğlu, a Turkish embassy counselor, was shot on an Athens street on 4 July 1994 and a ship and shipyard owner Constantinos Peratikos was shot leaving his office on 28 May 1997.[citation needed]

17N used two .45 M1911 semi-automatics as its "signature weapons".[9] While face-to-face assassination was the early modus operandi, in 1985 the group exploded its first bomb, targeting a bus full of riot police; a long cable was used to detonate explosives made of stolen quarrying explosives, which killed one.[citation needed]

In October 1986, 17N bombed four tax offices in its first low-level attack against property. In December 1989, 17N stole 114 obsolete anti-tank rockets from a poorly-guarded Greek military depot in Sykourion of Larissa.[citation needed]


Between 1990 and 1999, 17N conducted 24 rocket attacks, all but three of them aimed at property rather than human targets. In November 1990, a rocket attack against the armored limousine of shipowner Vardis Vardinogiannis failed.

In January 1991 a rocket attack took place on a building of BP. In May 1991 a rocket attack against Siemens offices. In December 1991 rocket attack against Viohalco.

In 1991, 17N rocketed also a riot police bus, killing one officer and wounding 14. In July 1992, a young passerby, Thanos Axarlian, was killed in a failed rocket attack on Economy Minister Ioannis Paleokrassas.[citation needed]

In May 1994 a rocket attack took place against an IBM building.[citation needed] In March 1995 two rockets against Mega Channel.[citation needed]

After their inaugural attack on the CIA station chief, the group tried to get mainstream newspapers to publish their manifesto. Their first proclamation, claiming the murder of Richard Welch, was first sent to "Libération" in Paris, France. It was given to the publisher of "Libération" via the offices of Jean-Paul Sartre,[10] but was not published. After subsequent attacks, 17N usually sent a communique to the Eleftherotypia newspaper. The group argued in its communiques that it wanted to rid Greece of U.S. bases, to remove the Turkish military from Cyprus, and to sever Greece's ties to NATO and the European Union.

On 7 April 1998, the group used a stolen anti-armor rocket to attack a downtown branch of the American Citibank, which caused damage but no injuries, as the warhead did not explode. The rocket was fired by remote control from a private car parked outside the bank on Drossopoulou street in the downtown district of Kypseli.[11]


A British defence attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders was shot and killed on 8 June 2000 by two men on motorbikes as he drove to work in Kifissia, Athens.[12][13]


17N's known murdered (23) and injured victims include:[14]

Richard Welch23/12/75CIA station chief in Athens.
Evangelos Mallios14/12/76policeman who was accused of torturing political prisoners during the period of military junta.
Pantelis Petrou16/01/80deputy commander of the Greek police Riot Control Unit M.A.T
Sotiris Stamoulis16/01/80driver of Pantelis Petrou
George Tsantes15/11/83a US Navy Captain. High level executive of JUSMAGG
Nikos Veloutsos15/11/83driver of George Tsantes
Robert H. Judd03/04/84army Master Sergean. Postal officer for JUSMAGG in Greecewounded in an assassination attempt.
Christos Matis24/12/84police guard.killed in a bank robbery.
Nikos Momferatos21/02/85publisher of the "Apogevmatini" right-wing newspaper
Georgios Roussetis21/02/85driver of Nikos Momferatos
Nikolaos Georgakopoulos26/11/85riot policemankilled in bus bombing.
Dimitrios Aggelopoulos08/04/86President of the board of Halyvourgiki S.A.
Zacharias Kapsalakis04/02/87doctor and clinic ownershot in the legs.
Alexander Athanasiadis01/03/88industrialist
William Nordeen23/06/88a US Navy captainkilled by a car bomb.
Constantinos Androulidakis10/01/89a public prosecutoris shot in both legs and dies of complications.
Panayiotis Tarasouleas18/01/89also a public prosecutoris shot in both legs.
Giorgos Petsos08/05/89PASOK MP and Ministeris injured in his car by a car bomb.
Pavlos Bakoyannis26/09/89New Democracy MPshot and killed outside his office over alleged links to George Koskotas.[15]
Ronald O. Stewart13/03/91a US Air Force Sergeantkilled by a bomb.
Deniz Bölükbaşı16/07/91Turkish Chargé d'Affairesis injured by a car bomb.
Çetin Görgü07/10/91Turkish Press attaché
Yiannis Varis02/11/91a police officeris killed in a missile and hand grenade attack against a riot squad bus
Athanasios Axarlian14/07/92a studentkilled by shrapnel during a rocket attack targeting the limousine of Finance Minister Ioannis Palaiokrassas.
Eleftherios Papadimitriou21/12/92New Democracy party deputy and MPis shot in both legs.
Michael Vranopoulos24/01/94former governor of the National Bank of Greece.
Ömer Haluk Sipahioğlu04/07/94counselor of the Turkish Embassy in Athens.
Kostis Peraticos28/05/97owner of Eleusis Shipyards.Shot by three masked individuals whilst leaving his company offices in Piraeus.[16][17]
Stephen Saunders15/06/00military attaché of the British Embassy in Athens.Shot and killed by two assassins on a motorbike whilst on the way to work.


On 29 June 2002 Greek authorities captured an injured suspect, Savvas Xiros, following a failed bombing attempt on the Minoan Flying Dolphins ferry company in Piraeus. A search of Xiros' person and interrogation led to the discovery of two safe houses and to the arrests of six more suspects, including two brothers of Savvas. A 58-year-old former mathematics student living underground since 1971, Alexandros Giotopoulos, was identified as the group leader and was arrested on 17 July 2002 on the island of Lipsi. On 5 September, Dimitris Koufontinas, identified as the group's chief of operations, surrendered to the authorities. In all, nineteen individuals were charged with some 2,500 offenses relating to the activities of 17N.[citation needed]

The trial of the terrorist suspects commenced in Athens on 3 March 2003, with Christos Lambrou serving as the lead prosecutor for the Greek state.[18] Because of the 20-year statute of limitations, crimes committed before 1984 (such as the killing of the CIA station chief) could not be tried by the court. On 8 December, fifteen of the accused, including Giotopoulos and Koufontinas, were found guilty; another four defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence. The convicted members were sentenced on 17 December 2003.[19] All those convicted defendants appealed.[20] On 3 May 2007, the convictions were upheld.[21][22]


In early January 2014, Christodoulos Xyros, one of the imprisoned leaders of the organization, escaped from prison. On 6 January, he failed to report to the police after leaving prison under the condition to report to the police everyday, which he did six times in 18 months.[23] He was taken into custody while riding a bicycle in the southern suburb of Anavyssos in early January 2015.[24]

In 2018 the group's alleged hitman Dimitris Koufontinas was moved from Korydallos Prison to a low security agricultural facility after the prison council approved his parole request, citing exemplary behaviour.[25][26]

2021 hunger strike

Since 8 January 2021, at 63 years of age, Koufontinas decided to go on hunger strike, asking for a transfer to Korydallos Prison after being sent to a high security prison in Domokos.[27] On 22 February Koufontinas started to reject water and medical care, forcibly removing a catheter from his arm before the courts issued an order to force feed the prisoner a few days later,[28] a practice condemned by many, including a Greek union of doctors as torture.[29] It was reported that on 5 March, Koufontinas had to be resuscitated due to kidney failure.[30] Koufontinas ended his hunger strike on 14 March after 65 days despite his demands not being met.[31]

Street demonstrations were held in multiple cities across Greece as well as attacks against property has been claimed in support of Koufontinas,[32][33] including a demonstration outside of president Katerina Sakellaropoulou's home.[34] Many in the public sphere have shown support for Koufontinas including Miguel Urbán, a co-founder of Podemos and film-maker Costa-Gavras.[35][29]^

Conspiracy theories

Some Greek officials considered Revolutionary Struggle (EA), the group that fired a Chinese-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy in Athens in January 2007, to be a spin-off of 17N. However, three self-admitted EA members arrested in April 2010 claimed that they were anarchists—a designation 17N rejected in its proclamations.[36] For many years, leading politicians of the right-wing New Democracy party, as well as the conservative press, falsely claimed that Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou was the mastermind behind 17N. Virginia Tsouderou, who became Deputy Foreign Minister in the Mitsotakis government, and journalist Giorgos Karatzaferis (later the founder and leader of a right-wing party, LAOS) claimed that terrorism in Greece was controlled by Papandreist officers of Hellenic National Intelligence Service (the Greek security and intelligence service), and named Kostas Tsimas (the head of EYP) and Colonel Alexakis as two of the supposed controllers of 17N.[37] However, after 17N members were arrested, the only connection between the terrorist organization and PASOK was the fact that Dimitris Koufontinas was a member of PAMK (Panellinia Agonistiki Mathitiki Kinisi, Panhellenic Militant Pupil's Movement). the PASOK militant high school students organization) and an admirer of Andreas Papandreou in his late teens.[38]

Other writers have also claimed that 17N may have been a tool of foreign secret services. In December 2005, Kleanthis Grivas published an article in To Proto Thema, a Greek Sunday newspaper, in which he accused "Sheepskin", the Greek branch of Gladio, NATO's stay-behind paramilitary organization during the Cold War, of the 1975 assassination of Welch, as well as of the 2000 assassination of Saunders. This was denied by the US State Department, which responded that "the Greek terrorist organization '17 November' was responsible for both assassinations", and asserted that Grivas' central piece of evidence had been the "Westmoreland Field Manual," which the State Department, as well as a Congressional inquiry, had dismissed as a Soviet forgery. The State Department also highlighted the fact that, in the case of Richard Welch, "Grivas bizarrely accuses the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of one of its own senior officials" as well as the Greek government's statements to the effect that the "stay behind" network had been dismantled in 1988.[39]

See also


  1. Archived 10 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine 17 November, Revolutionary People's Struggle, Revolutionary Struggle (Greece, leftists)-The Council on Foreign Relations
  2. Press release Archived 4 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Greek Police (in Greek)
  3. "Terrorism Act 2000". Schedule 2, Act No. 11 of 2000. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  4. "18 May 2007, Press Release Regarding the 17 November Terrorist Organisation". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. 18 May 2007. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  5. Foreign Terrorist Organizations Archived 27 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. Department of State
  6. Archived 3 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine 17 November Terrorist Organization Chronology of Attacks
  7. Nomikos, John (2007). "Terrorism, Media, and Intelligence in Greece: Capturing the 17 November Group". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 20 (1): 65–78. doi:10.1080/08850600600888896. S2CID 154622005.
  8. Times, Steven V. Roberts Special to The New York (26 December 1976). "One Year Later, the Murder of the C.I.A.'s Chief Officer in Athens Remains a Mystery Without Solid Clues (Published 1976)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  9. Trademark Colt pistol is identified Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 18 July 2002.
  10. Giotopoulos the son of renowned Greek Trotskyite Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Cyprus Mail, 20 July 2002.
  11. "Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-08".
  12. agencies, Staff and (8 June 2000). "British defence attache shot dead in Athens". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  13. "Δίκη Ε.Ο.17Ν - Μέρα 40". 28 July 2011. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  14. "Chronology of all November 17 attacks". Kathimerini. 7 August 2002. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.
  15. MONTALBANO, WILLIAM (27 September 1989). "Greek Scandal Turns Deadly as Terrorists Gun Down Lawmaker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  16. "Murder of Costis Peraticos shocks shipping industry | TradeWinds". TradeWinds | Latest shipping and maritime news. 29 May 1997. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  17. "A Death in Athens". Wall Street Journal. 14 June 2000. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  18. Nov17 trial begins Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 3 March 2003.
  19. Deadly 17 November to end its life in prison Archived 20 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Kathimerini, 18 December 2003.
  20. No TV in 17N trial Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Athens News Agency, 9 December 2005.
  21. Kunz, Didier (5 May 2007). "Le démantèlement du 17-N n'a pas mis fin au terrorisme en Grèce". Spyworld. Le Monde. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  22. "Le chef d'un groupe terroriste condamné à perpétuité en appel". (in French). 23 June 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  23. "Greece fears return of left-wing terrorism". Deutsche Welle. 8 January 2014. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  24. "Notorious Greek fugitive arrested on bicycle". AFP. 3 January 2015. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. "Greek terrorist's prison parole sparks global outrage". The Guardian. 10 November 2017. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  27. Kitsantonis, Niki (3 March 2021). "Protests and Vandalism Follow Hit Man's Hunger Strike". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  28. "Court orders force-feeding of "17. November" convict Koufontinas on hunger & thirst strike". Keep Talking Greece. 24 February 2021. Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  29. "Greek Prosecutor Calls for Force-Feeding of Convicted Terrorist Koufontinas". 24 February 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  30. Presse, AFP-Agence France. "Greek Hitman On Hunger Strike Suffers Kidney Failure". Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  31. "Convicted Terrorist Koufontinas Ends Hunger Strike". 14 March 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  32. "Police disperse Athens demo in support of convict Dimitris Koufontinas' hunger strike". Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  33. "Attacks in Solidarity with Hunger Striker Dimitris Koufontinas in Athens, Greece". AMW English. 3 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  34. "Στόχος το σπίτι της Προέδρου της Δημοκρατίας-Πέταξαν τρικάκια και φώναξαν συνθήματα". euronews (in Greek). 23 February 2021. Archived from the original on 23 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  35. "The situation of Dimitris Koufontinas". Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  36. Letter from P. Roupa, N. Maziotis, K. Gournas Archived 21 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine,, 29 April 2010.
  37. Eleftheros Tipos, 13 December 1989
  38. Canter, David V. (17 December 2009). The Faces of Terrorism: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-74450-5.
  39. Leventhal, Todd (20 January 2006). "Misinformation about "Gladio/Stay Behind" Networks Resurfaces". Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2009.


  • Nomikos, John (2007). "Terrorism, Media, and Intelligence in Greece: Capturing the 17 November Group". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 20 (1): 65–78. doi:10.1080/08850600600888896. S2CID 154622005.

Further reading

  • Constantine Buhayer, "The UK's Role in Boosting Greek Counter Terrorism Capabilities," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 September 2002.
  • Kassimeris, George (December 2004). "Fighting for revolution? The life and death of Greece's revolutionary organization 17 November 1975–2002". Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans. 6 (3): 259–273. doi:10.1080/1461319042000296813. S2CID 154325642.
  • Kiesling, John Brady (2014). Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance and Terrorism 1967–2014. Athens: Lycabettus Press. ISBN 978-960-7269-55-3. OCLC 907474685.