A Greek left-wing extremist who has been recaptured after a year on the run was planning an armed assault on a maximum security prison in Athens to free inmates, police have said.
The BBC reports that Christodoulos Xiros of Marxist terror group November 17 was arrested on Saturday after going missing in January last year. He had escaped custody after he was allowed out of prison to visit his family.
Police said they found a cache of arms at his house in Anavyssos, including eight Kalashnikovs, a grenade launcher, three handguns, a silencer and explosives. They also found plans for the prison attack.
A local police chief said: “The findings point to a big hit on the Korydallos prison, aiming to free prisoners. Based on notes we found, the attack would have taken place in the next days.”
While he was on the loose, Xiros appeared in a video threatening terrorist actions over the Greek government’s austerity measures in the wake of the country’s bailout. He criticised the Greek government’s handling of the economic crisis and threatened to ‘avenge’ the pain of the Greek people.
Following the arrest, Public Safety minister Vassilis Kikilias said: “Greek police prevented a major attack against the heart of the Greek prison system.”
The November 17 terror group emerged in the 1970s and carried out a series of attacks against Greek politicians and diplomats, as well as foreign diplomats. It killed at least 23 people during its three-decade campaign of violence, before finally disbanding in 2002 following the arrest of much of its membership.
Xiros is among 15 members of the group who have been convicted of various crimes, including homicide and terrorism.