Bumbling bomb plot exposes Poland's dark side

Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:54am EST
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By Chris Borowski, Wojciech Zurawski and Marcin Goettig

KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) - The Polish man arrested for plotting to blow up parliament was not difficult for intelligence agents to spot. Acquaintances say he put up posters advertising classes on home-made explosives, and anti-government comments were posted on the Internet from his email address.

But even if it was destined to fail, the story of this alleged bomb plot reveals some uncomfortable truths about Poland, a country hailed abroad as a success story for its transition from Communism to democracy.

What emerges from the online chat rooms and social networking sites where the suspect purportedly aired his views is Poland's dark side, inhabited by a tiny minority who feel marginalized by the country's transformation and angry enough to want to overthrow the government.

Some of them, say people who track extremism in Poland, could be plotting violent attacks; and next time, they might not be so inept as the man prosecutors say was behind the plot they uncovered.

"This person made a lot of very basic mistakes," said Andrzej Kruczynski, a former officer in the Polish armed forces' GROM anti-terrorist unit. "If this person had a little more imagination, we could have seen a tragedy ... We can consider ourselves lucky that acts of terrorism have not reached us."

The allegations of a bomb plot resonated deeply in Poland because it was the first such case in the two decades since the country emerged from Communist rule.

Prosecutors said they arrested a 45-year-old chemistry lecturer from the southern city of Krakow on suspicion of planning to detonate a vehicle packed with four tons of explosives outside the parliament building.

They said the suspect had "nationalist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic" motivations and believed the people running the country were "not true Poles".   Continued...