Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’

A defector from the party revealed the tactics and organization of Greece’s far right extremists—whose leaders…

Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’ Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’

Uncategorized September 29, 2013 0

Police block a road during a golden dawn march in june, 2012. jurvetson/flickr photo Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’ A defector... Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’
Police block a road during a golden dawn march in june, 2012. jurvetson/flickr photo

Oh Great: Greek Neo-Nazis Have a Scooter ‘Battalion’

A defector from the party revealed the tactics and organization of Greece’s far right extremists — whose leaders are now under arrest

by ROBERT BECKHUSEN

It’s Europe’s most dangerous neo-fascist party, and the Greek government’s patience with it has run out. Now it has to do something about the party’s uniformed, scooter-borne street thugs.

Following the murder of hip-hop musician Pavlos Fyssas allegedly at the hands of Golden Dawn earlier in September, Greek security forces arrested at least a dozen members of the party including its leader Nikos Michaloliakos, along with the party’s chief spokesman and five of MPs. The party leaders have since been charged with operating a criminal conspiracy.

There’s plenty of good reason for the charge. Aside from being implicated in a homicide, Golden Dawn has been beset by leaks from within the organization revealing the party operates a mafia-like organization that engages in running protection schemes and orchestrating violence. That’s according to one defector who spoke with Athens newspaper Ethnos this month, whose interview was translated and placed online by the Greece Solidarity Movement.

None of this is entirely new, but the defector bolsters the widely-held view that Golden Dawn is a secretive and paranoid force, which uses uniformed street thugs to attack and intimidate immigrants and ethnic minorities on Greek streets.

The defector did not leave the organization because he disagreed with the party’s basic platform. At one point, he complains the party’s violence meted out to Pakistani immigrants is “just for show” and that Golden Dawn runs a clothing racket on the side with some Pakistani street vendors, where donated clothes are sold to the vendors and the profits pocketed by the party.

At the same time, he objects to racketeering operations by the party and increasingly brutal violence. The former member describes the party terrorizing immigrants, at one point forcing a Pakistani man to lie down in the street for a member to “kick his head as if he was taking a penalty shot.”

“Being a nationalist doesn’t mean I kill someone,” he said.

Attack battalions

Aside from racketeering, the defector spoke of violence being organized through a secretive inner group based in the western Athens suburb of Nikaia. Golden Dawn has thousands of regular members, who pay a fee of 20 euros to join, along with “nucleus” members who serve as the party’s dedicated activists and soldiers. The members of the nucleus “will do everything, no matter what it is, without a question.”

Within the group was another set of made members — a second, closed nucleus of “beefed-up cadres” who engage in violence. The Nikaia branch’s closed nucleus is open only to males, and also serves as the “attack battalions” for Golden Dawn as a whole. These members wear black-and-white camouflage pants and black t-shirts. But during some actions, they wear only black with no identifiable insignia in order to avoid being recognized.

How do you join the attack battalion? “You have to have a really strong stomach,” the defector said. “To accept everything. You are a zero, nothing. Do you know what it means to tell you to get down and do crunches and then they kick you on the sides in front of everyone?”

The defector also noted the battalion members had strict records kept of each of them, which included the numbers of people they’d beaten and attendance records at party events. In addition to the attack battalions, there is a “mechanized battalion” called the Innovas after the brand of scooter. A youth wing called the Centaurs recruits high-school-aged students.

The good news is that the defector describes the organization as following a strict hierarchy. Here’s why that’s important:

Both Giorgos Patelis, the head of the attack battalions, and Golden Dawn parliamentarian Ioannis Lagos — who served as a middleman between Patelis’ attack battalions and Golden Dawn’s top leader — were arrested in Saturday’s crackdown. The structure of the group presented by the defector shows multiple levels of command, with the lower levels kept on a need-to-know basis.

“The lower levels [of Golden Dawn] don’t know anything,” the defector said. “Giorgos (Patelis) knows. And if he feels like it, he informs us. The only thing we know is that we will inform Lagos, and we will get the OK from Lagos for anything to happen.”

In addition to the party’s leader being arrested, the Greek government has disrupted three levels of the party’s command structure. This reliance on orders from a strict hierarchy could make it difficult for Golden Dawn’s members to react as its leaders are trotted off to jail.

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