Yesterday we reported that in a dramatic escalation against the lockbox of Europe's cash, a package containing explosives was found at the German finance ministry. It was, however, unclear who had sent it. Today we have an answer: according to Reuters, the militant Greek group Conspiracy of Fire Cells has claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb that was mailed to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, German police said on Thursday.
The parcel was mailed to Schaeuble from a post office branch in Athens but as discussed previously, was intercepted by the German finance ministry's mail department. The group has previously claimed responsibility for a wave of parcel bombs sent to foreign embassies in Athens in 2010.
"We still have the rage. We sent the package to Germany's finance minister as part of the second act of Nemesis Plan," the group said in a statement on the internet. "Nothing is over, everything continues." The statement did not specify what Nemesis Plan was. Police consider the claim as credible.
Needless to say, Schaeuble is perhaps the most unpopular person in Greece, more so than even Angela Merkel, perceived as the embodiment of all Greek suffering and the hardliner on austerity during the country's long financial crisis.
The Conspiracy of Fire Cells, one in a long line of violent anti-establishment groups in Greece, initially specialized in arson attacks but turned to bombings in May 2009. In 2011, six of their members were sent to prison with sentences ranging from 11 to 37 years.
The group has become prominent since the economic crisis erupted in Greece and is accused by police of carrying out about 150 criminal acts since 2009.
Its bombs typically contain small amounts of explosives packed into pressure cookers or similar containers.
According to Reuters, the police have located the post office branch from where the parcel was mailed to Schaeuble and are examining videos from a camera. "The sender did not enter the branch but placed the package inside a box outside that people use when they want to avoid lines," a police official told Reuters, declining to be named.
Greek police have been told by their German counterparts that the parcel contained explosives inside a book, connected with cables. It is not clear if the device could have exploded.
Greek post office ELTA said it uses the latest German-made X-ray equipment to detect explosives at Athens airport. A certified company operates the equipment before parcels are loaded onto planes. "There is a thorough investigation to ascertain any possible oversight from the part of the company responsible for checking all air mail that is sent abroad," ELTA said in a statement.
While ELTA said that it follows procedures set by the World Post Association and prescribed safety rules on airmail, it noted that "similar incidents have taken place in many postal operators in the world."
In an ironic twist, police said the sender's name on the package was that of senior conservative politician Adonis Georgiadis, vice president of the New Democracy party, which is currently leading the leftist-led coalition government in opinion polls. Late on Wednesday Georgiadis confirmed that his name had been used as the sender of the parcel.
"Unfortunately it is true and not funny at all. My targeting by terrorists is continuous," he said in a tweet. On the previous day, assailants attacked Georgiadis' bookstore in Athens with gas canisters, causing light damage.
And while it was probably not linked to the assassination attempt on Schauble, on Thursday an anonymous EU official said that there will likely not be a Greece edeal before the March 20 meeting, adding that "Greek authorities and creditors still quite far apart, EU official tells reporters." Cited by Bloomberg he also said that an "agreement in April could also be quite difficult to get staff-level agreement."
In light of recent negotiations between Greece and Europe, it is virtually assured that no deal with be concluded until several hours before the upcoming multi-billion Greek debt payments are due in early July.