The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire Resurgent

The number of emerging and resurgent non-state actors (NSAs) is vast and troublesome. In almost every region of the globe, there are burgeoning non-state actors and groups warranting a level of concern from states, security apparatuses, and citizenry alike. In Asia, for example, there is the militant Islamist, ISIS-affiliated Maute group based out of the Philippines or the Maoist Communist Party of India.[1] The Maute brothers have occupied Marawi to a devastating effect since late May of 2017 and are allegedly planning further attacks across the island of Mindanao.[2] In Europe, one finds the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey and dozens of anarchist, nihilist, and socialist factions spread throughout the European continent. The United States is experiencing a revival of nationalist fervor, which has given rise to a number of right-wing extremist organizations. And in the Middle East and Northern Africa, non-state groups of importance are virtually uncountable. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham in Syria[3] and Afghanistan’s Khorasan group[4] are both making significant waves, for example, but one of the most capable and most deadly of these resurgent groups is the Haqqani Network, a Sunni-Islamist terror group based in Northern Pakistan.[5] Although the Haqqani Network has been around for decades, they have returned to the forefront with a series of quietly orchestrated and unclaimed attacks.

A lesser-known yet equally brazen non-state organization, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, also appears to be in the midst of resurgence and capable of provoking major political disruption across Europe and possibly the Americas.

A lesser-known yet equally brazen non-state organization, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, also appears to be in the midst of resurgence and capable of provoking major political disruption across Europe and possibly the Americas. Unlike the Haqqani Network, the readily available information concerning the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire is not plentiful due to their relative newness on the scene as well as not falling under the “radical Islamic terrorist” classification. Compounding this lack of information is the fact that the group is an anti-authoritarian, revolutionary, anarcho-individualist organization inherently disinclined to release any information other than its aims. Fortunately, there has been just enough coverage to achieve an understanding of the threat they pose and why they do what they do.

“This pamphlet is a meeting point of comrades from all over the world. An imaginary meeting since the walls and bars of the prisons where we are temporarily keep our bodies hostage. But our meanings remain free, escape from the cells of prison and are expressed with words continuing to provoke authority."

The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire is based principally out of Greece but is also reported to have chapters in Mexico and Argentina.[6] The group materialized with a literal bang when on January 21, 2008, they firebombed a series of banks and car dealerships in quick succession across the Greek cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. In a claim of responsibility made the following day, the Conspiracy stated these targets were chosen as a result of the group’s anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist values, and the attack itself was an act of camaraderie with a fellow anarchist who was imprisoned and awaiting trial on three counts of arson.[7]

First and foremost, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire identifies as a group of insurrectionary anarchists, meaning they do not subscribe to utopian ideals or care particularly about class struggles.[8] They believe in a constant state of revolt and suggest persistence in carrying out small, havoc-wreaking actions. Capitalism and the state are their abstract enemies, and they often misrepresent Nietzsche and Marx to justify their philosophy, while in other cases they correctly interpret the writings of revered anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.[9] Aside from insurrectionary anarchists, reporters have referred to the Conspiracy as anti-authoritarian, anti-austerity, far-left, and Marxist.[10] In 2011, the U.S. State Department officially designated the group as a terrorist organization.[11]

The exact size of the group is unknown but the Conspiracy is made up of countless autonomous cells spread throughout Greece, the European Union, Mexico, and Argentina.

A 22-year-old student was arrested in March 2015 by a Greek police anti-terrorist unit while acting as a go-between for other Conspiracy network members.

The exact size of the group is unknown but the Conspiracy is made up of countless autonomous cells spread throughout Greece, the European Union, Mexico, and Argentina. The leadership structure is intrinsically loose and horizontal. One Greek security official likened the group to the mythical Hydra: when one member is caught or a cell shutdown, more are sure to emerge. Based on existing arrest records, analysts and lawyers have inferred is they are comprised of mostly young, educated, and affluent individuals with nihilistic tendencies. The affluence of its members also provides for a majority of its funding.[12] The parents of those involved in the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire are thought to afford money for lodging, sustenance, bail, and more. Of course, as insurrectionary anarchists, members also resort to theft and squatting. While not officially aligned with any organization, the Conspiracy is suspected of having ties to various other anarchist collectives such as Revolutionary Struggle and Nihilist Faction.[13] With so-called black bloc and other anarchist incidents on the rise in response to the political climate in the United States, collaboration between domestic groups and the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire is not difficult to envision. [14]

Much of the anarchist-caused disorder in Greece has been attributed to the Conspiracy, but they are most widely known for their parcel bomb attacks and improvised explosive devices. Until 2010, they were generally considered a non-lethal group as their attacks were meant to inflict only property damage and they often placed warning calls before setting off bombs.[15] Officials and analysts were forced to reevaluate that theory once the group began their infamous parcel bombing campaign.

On November 1, 2010, a parcel bomb designed to explode upon opening was addressed to the Mexican Embassy in Athens. When a mail courier attempted to examine the package, it detonated and injured the courier’s hands. The courier identified the man responsible for delivering the parcel, and the perpetrator was found in possession of parcel bombs ostensibly intended for Nicolas Sarkozy, then the president of France, and the Belgian and Dutch Embassies in Athens. The next day, explosions went off in front of the Swiss and Russian Embassies in Athens; four more parcels meant for the Europol, Chilean, Bulgarian, and German Embassies were found and destroyed. A parcel intended for the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, detonated while being inspected and another that made it all the way to the offices of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was found and destroyed. In all, the only injured party was the original mail courier, but the attempted attacks led to a 48-hour suspension of Greek airmail services. The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for each of the parcel bombs.[16]

French police officers secure the scene near the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on March 16, 2017, after a letter bomb exploded in the premises. (Christophe Archambault/Getty)

Apart from the 2010 parcel-bombing spree, the Conspiracy claimed responsibility for the 2011 bombing of an Athens courthouse as well as numerous bombings of vehicles belonging to Greek public officials. Lately, the group has returned to its parcel bombing tactic. On March 16, 2017, a bomb intended for the German Finance Minister was intercepted and destroyed. That same day a bomb exploded inside the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris, injuring one employee.[17] The two attacks are seemingly part of a larger operation entitled “Nemesis” by the group.[18] Most recently, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire are thought to have carried out yet another parcel bomb attack targeting former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who sustained non-life threatening injuries along with two Bank of Greece employees after the bomb detonated in their vehicle.[19]

Due to the overwhelming emphasis on extremist organizations claiming religious motivation, it is too easy for groups such as the Conspiracy to get lost in the background.

The organizations we know—like the Haqqani Network, and those less familiar—like the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, are very different, and those differences are instructive. The Haqqani Network has Taliban cover, dynamic funding, and support from legitimate state actors; while the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire uses unorthodox tactics and anonymity to their advantage.[20] And each group poses a unique threat to its respective region, and potentially others around the world. The Conspiracy, for example, has shown it is willing to and capable of delivering a parcel bomb across European borders. What if it were to get one, or even several, into the United States? A few strategically targeted parcels to cabinet members, corporate executives, or Supreme Court Justices could be the cause of major disruption.

While the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire has yet to explicitly name the U.S. as a target, the anti-capitalist values the group holds coupled with the disdain for western states suggest that such a scenario cannot be ruled out.[21] An alliance with American Antifa factions is another possibility to consider.[22] Given that Greek law enforcement suspects the Conspiracy played a part in the killing of two ultra-right Golden Dawn members in 2013, the current alt-right surge running through America could serve as the impetus for such an alliance to occur.[23] Indeed, this group appears resurgent. A simple Google alert set up for each of its names yields multiple mentions a week, from media outlets and academia alike.

Due to the overwhelming emphasis on extremist organizations claiming religious motivation, it is too easy for groups such as the Conspiracy to get lost in the background.[24] Allowing this might prove to be a costly mistake. Last month’s G20 summit in Hamburg[25] and the CCF prisoner solidarity riots in Athens serve as a reminder of what these anarchist collectives are capable.[26] The United States would be remiss to place such a destructive force on the backburner. The 2011 State Department terrorist designation is a start, but it is important not to let vigilance end there. The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire requires monitoring and analysis. Their oft-produced manifestos and pamphlets should be taken seriously, and any packages emanating from Greece addressed to government figures should be treated with due caution.

Greek security officials warn us about the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire: “You should not underestimate that the organization consists of very angry young people who don't have anything to hope for."[27] And the New Delhi Times warn of potential targets of the group.[28] It is evident this group represents a force to be reckoned with, and their resurgence is not something to be taken lightly.

Brendan Chrzanowski is a Navy veteran. He will graduate from the University of New Haven's National Security program in Fall 2017 and begin studies with the NYU Global Affairs graduate program in Spring 2018.

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Header Image: “Freedom for anarchist fighters from Conspiracy of Cells of Fire”


[1] Chalmers, J. (2017, June 12). The Maute brothers: Southeast Asia's Islamist 'time bomb'. Retrieved from

[2] Mogato, M. (2017, August 02). Philippine president to ask Congress for 20,000 new troops to fight extremists. Retrieved from

[3] Heller, S. (2017, August 02). MPA summary: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham moves to consolidate Syria's northern insurgency. Retrieved from

[4] AFP. (2017, August 01). Two killed in IS-claimed attack on Iraq embassy in Kabul. Retrieved from

[5] Mashal, M., Abed, F., & Sukhanyar, J. (2017, May 31). Deadly Bombing in Kabul Is One of the Afghan War’s Worst Strikes. Retrieved from

[6] The group is also known as Conspiracy of Fire Cells (CFC), Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, Informal Anarchist Federation, Synomosia Pyrinon Tis Fotias (SPF), and for those that may know Greek, Συνωμοσία Πυρήνων της Φωτιάς. Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF-FAI-FRI). (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

[7] Εμπρηστικό μπαράζ-Overnight Series of Arsons (21/1/2008). (2008, January 22). Retrieved from

[8] K, S. (2009, April 20th). Some notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism. Retrieved from

[9] CCF. (2011, March). Our Lives of Burning Vision. Retrieved from

[10] Keating, J. (2010, November 04). What do we know about the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei? Retrieved from ; Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF-FAI-FRI). (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

[11] Terrorist Designation of Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei. (2011, October 13). Retrieved from

[12] Maltezou, R., & Babington, D. (2013, August 14). Special Report: Inside Greece's violent new anarchist groups. Retrieved from

[13] Anonymous. (2016, March 15). Montreal: Arson attack at a luxury car dealership in solidarity with imprisoned members of CCF & Revolutionary Struggle (Canada). Retrieved from  Scum of Toytown. (2009, July 11). Communique from the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (Greece). Retrieved from

[14] Rocha, V., & King, P. (2017, February 5). UC Berkeley blames violent 'black bloc' protesters for 'unprecedented invasion' Retrieved from

[15] Stewart, S. (2013, March 14). Greek's Radical Left: The Dangers of the Disaffected and the Unemployed. Retrieved from

[16] The Greek Anarchists' Aggressive Parcel Bomb Campaign. (2010, November 2). Retrieved from ; Greece suspends foreign airmail service after attacks. (2010, November 03). Retrieved from

[17] Smith, H. (2017, March 16). Letter bomb that exploded at Paris IMF office was sent from Greece. Retrieved from

[18] Georgiopoulos, G. (2017, March 16). Greek group claims it mailed parcel bomb to German finance minister. Retrieved from

[19] Becatoros, E., & Paphitis, N. (2017, May 25). Greek Ex-Prime Minister Lucas Papademos Wounded in Athens Bombing. Retrieved from

[20] Haqqani Network Narrative. (2015, June). Retrieved from

[21] Conspiracy Cells of Fire. (2008, April 10). Retrieved from

[22] Anarchist Extremists: Antifa. (2017, June 12). Retrieved from

[23] Dabilis, A. (2013, November 19). Golden Dawn Killings Renew New Violence Fears. Retrieved from

[24] Holley, P. (2017, March 01). ‘Radical Islamic terrorism': Three words that separate Trump from most of Washington. Retrieved from

[25] Witt, J. (2017, July 08). G20 summit in Hamburg marred by violent protests, vandalism | News | DW | 08.07.2017. Retrieved from

[26] Kokkinidis, T. (2017, July 18). Protesters Riot in Athens over Irianna, Jailed for Membership of Terror Group. Retrieved from

[27] Maltezou, R., & Babington, D. (2013, August 14). Special Report: Inside Greece's violent new anarchist groups. Retrieved from

[28] Parcel bombs sent to German Ministry of Finance and Paris IMF office indicate elevated risk in coming days. (2017, June 24). Retrieved from