The Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire Nuclei (CCF), known in Greece as Synomosía Pyrínon tis Fotiás (Συνωμοσία Πυρήνων της Φωτιάς) (SPF) is an anarcho-nihilist urban guerilla group of Greek origin that has grown into a worldwide network of anarchist cells. (1) With operatives laying claim to attacks in Germany, Chile and Indonesia, the network is shrouded in secrecy, resulting in a terrorist entity designation by the US Department of State. In a 2012 statement, Europol also claimed that the “[CCF are] the pioneers of urban conflict and coordinators of armed anarchist groups in many countries worldwide.”(2) (3) (4)
The CCF became operative on January 21st 2008 through a series of coordinated firebomb attacks on Athenian banks and luxury car dealerships, in solidarity with imprisoned “anti-authoritarian conscience brigade” anarchist Vangelis Botzatzis. Despite its origins in anarchist ideology, the CCF does not sympathise with the working class and instead focuses on the importance of the ‘individual urban guerilla’ to spark a revolution against consumer society, the military-police complex, mass media, and modern power structures. (5) The CCF’s lack of an organisational hierarchy and the fluidity of its communiqués has enabled the group and its splinter cells to stay largely in the shadows since the arrests and imprisonments of its founding or ‘first phase’ members between 2010 and 2013. (6) Nevertheless, recent attacks tracing back to 2017 highlight that the group is far from dormant. (7)
History & Foundations
Greece has long been a bastion of anarchist activity. For instance, the Second World War saw divisions of the Greek Communist Party, the National Liberation Front (EAM) and the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELA), spearhead an urban militancy against Greece’s Nazi/Fascist Occupiers. (8) However, the seeds of contemporary Greek anarchy had been sown under the administrations of Anti-Communist Junta leader Colonel George Papadopoulos (1967-1973) and later Prime Minister-turned-President Konstantinos Karamanlis (1974-1995). Political modernization, or ‘metapolitefsi’ – the loosening of restrictions on leftist literature – introduced Greece’s affluent and educated youth to radical and leftist concepts which had once been outlawed under Colonel Papadopoulos’ junta. (9) Furthermore, the excessive use of force by Greek Government forces on protesting students only amplified the youth's discontent with their nation’s leadership. (10)
By the mid to late 2000s, economic downturn and political crises had once again thrown Greece into social turmoil. The Conspiracy of the Fire Cells' first attack came at midnight on the 21st of January 2008, when a series of firebombs struck various banks, power company vehicles, and luxury car dealerships within a 30-minute window. (11) After the initial fire-bombing spree, CCF claimed one arson attack per month. (12)
Furthermore, the killing of 15-year-old Athens Polytechnic student Alexis Grigoropoulos by a Greek police officer on December 6th 2008 not only led to massive protests in Athens and the surrounding areas but also triggered the CCF to ramp up its militancy. (13) Between 2009 and 2017, the CCF targeted the homes and offices of Greek politicians, EU officials, and various embassies with parcel bombs or arson attacks. (14)
Objectives & Ideology
Often referred to as ‘anarcho-nihilists’, the absolute ideology of the CCF is unclear as each communiqué (often posted through their platform, Athens.Indymedia.org) is penned by a different member of the organisation. (15) This results in a fluid ideology that touches on what they perceive as the failings of the ‘apathetic masses’, the crimes of the capitalist state, and most importantly, the need to facilitate revolution, arm in arm with the ‘Informal Anarchist Federation’. (16)
The CCF is also known as ‘The Conspiracy of the Fire Cells Nuclei’ because it sees itself as the nucleus of an autonomous cell network and aims to rouse these various cells to action through its publications, such as ‘The Sun Still Rises” and “The Black International”. (17) The CCF’s disregard for hierarchical organisational structure has proven relatively effective, with arson attacks occurring against ATMs in Indonesia, a Greek diplomat's car in Germany, as well as a parcel bomb attack on a Subway in Chile. (18) Essentially, this structure (which is a structural manifestation of its core ideology) has enabled its values and intentions to spread internationally.
Military/Political Abilities & Approach to Resistance
As Anarcho-Nihilists, CCF members do not believe in discourse with ‘the enemy’ and thus rely on ‘hit and run’ attacks. (19) As aforementioned, improvised explosive/incendiary devices are the methods most often used by the group. However, members have also taken part in armed robberies. (20) Additionally, after a raid on a CCF safe house in Halandria, a large arsenal of small arms, explosives, phones and cash was seized, including 50 kilos of ANFO explosive, 3 Scorpion submachine guns, an RPG and three HEAT warheads. (21) (22)
In 2017, a letterbomb was intercepted before it was received by Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Later that year, another letterbomb addressed to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) European representative, Jeffery Franks, detonated in the IMF’s Paris office. Again, in May 2017, Former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and two members of his security detail were wounded after a letterbomb exploded in his vehicle. (23) All three attacks were claimed by the Conspiracy of the Fire Cells, which brings to light the fact that, despite the imprisonment of CCF’s founding members between 2010 and 2013, the group has not only expanded its reach but also seemingly been able to avoid police detection.
International Relations & Potential Alliances
The Conspiracy of the Fire Cells is often thought to occasionally work in conjunction with “The Sect of Revolutionaries” another Greek anarchist group active in the early to mid-2010s. (24) Additionally, CCF's decentralised nature makes it increasingly difficult to identify the size of its forces and how far its global reach is. Nonetheless, it is clear that there is some civilian support for the group in Greece (most likely due to the fact that CCF does not target civilians), particularly in the Athens neighbourhood of Exarcheia, as the former home to the EAM and ELA during the Second World War it is often described as Greece’s “anarchist bastion”. (25) It must also be noted that the CCF has allied directly with the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) in Italy. Both groups have adopted a wider name – the ‘International Revolutionary Front’ – by which they underline and promote their international coordination. They often claim each other’s attacks in a symbol of unity, to show that they act together.
Works Cited (Chicago-style)
(1) - George Kassimeris (2012) Greece's New Generation of Terrorists, Part 2: The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:9, 634-649, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.702670
(5) - George, Kassimeris (2012) Greece's New Generation of Terrorists, Part 2: The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:9, 634-649, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.702670
(6) - Ibd.
(7) - Nektaria, Stamouli, . "Greek Police Arrest Man Suspected of Sending Letter Bombs; the 29-Year Old is Thought to be a Member of Far-Left Anarchist Group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire." Wall Street Journal (Online), Oct 29, 2017.
(8) - Federica Panico, ‘Exarcheia: The Rebel Soul of Athens’. April 1, 2022. Byarcardia.org https://www.byarcadia.org/post/exarcheia-the-rebel-soul-of-athens
(9) - George, Kassimeris. Inside greek terrorism. Oxford University Press, USA, 2013.
(10) - Ibd.
(11) - Michael, Loadenthal. The Politics of the Attack: A Discourse of Insurrectionary Communiques. Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of George Mason University, 2015.
(12) - Ibd.
(13) - George Kassimeris (2012) Greece's New Generation of Terrorists, Part 2: The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:9, 634-649, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.702670
(14) - Ibd.
(15) - Michael, Loadenthal. The Politics of the Attack: A Discourse of Insurrectionary Communiques. Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of George Mason University, 2015.
(16) - "Greece: Conspiracy of Cells of Fire Claims Responsibility for Parcel Bomb." BBC Monitoring European, Feb 07, 2011. https://www.proquest.com/wire-feeds/greece-conspiracy-cells-fire-claims/docview/849489720/se-2.
(17) - George Kassimeris (2012) Greece's New Generation of Terrorists, Part 2: The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:9, 634-649, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.702670
(18) - Ibd.
(19) - Michael, Loadenthal. The Politics of the Attack: A Discourse of Insurrectionary Communiques. Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of George Mason University, 2015.
(20) - Ibd.
(21) - George Kassimeris (2012) Greece's New Generation of Terrorists, Part 2: The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:9, 634-649, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.702670
(22) - Vasilis, Chronopoulos, ‘Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei: The Anarchist Terrorists’ Mar 27, 2017. https://sofrep.com/news/conspiracy-of-fire-nuclei-the-anarchist-terrorists/
(23) - Counter Extremism Project. ‘Greece: Extremism and Terrorism’. 2021. https://www.counterextremism.com/countries/greece-extremism-and-terrorism/report
(24) - Mary, Bossis, ‘The Dimension of “New” Terrorism’. Research Institute for European and American Studies. Jun 02, 2013. https://rieas.gr/researchareas/global-issues/balkan-studies/3408-the-dimension-of-new-terrorism
(25) - Federica Panico, ‘Exarcheia: The Rebel Soul of Athens’. April 1, 2022. Byarcardia.org https://www.byarcadia.org/post/exarcheia-the-rebel-soul-of-athens