ANNI DI PIOMBO - THE LEAD YEARS -Terrorism in Italy - (books and docs)

Started by tiny_tove, March 25, 2011, 09:29:35 AM

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Since somebody mentioned Balestrini's works regarding the autonomous left, I think it is time we start sharing our knowledge on the subject.
Unfortunately most of the best books regarding the Italian civil war called "the lead years" are in Italian language and latest researches of people like uGo Maria Tassinari, debunked many myths regarding many holy cows of those years.

An excellent starting point on the subject is this

Two journalists, one left wing, the other right wing, rebuild the whole process until the early years 2000.
Not my favourite book on the subject, but definitely a good start for newcomers.

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Interesting topic. My knowledge on this matter is rather limited, especially as I don't have good Italian. I'm wondering what sort of debunking Ugo Maria Tassinari has done, would you explain briefly in a sentence or two? I did a search and ran some stuff through Google Translate, he seems to be on the radical-/far- Right and particularly hostile towards antifa, is that a fair characterization?

The book whose cover you posted seems as though it could be interesting--wish my language skills were better...

I think that Balestrini's The Unseen (Gli invisibili) does a fairly good job of capturing some of what it must have felt like for some young people on the far-Left during this period. First and foremost, it is good writing. I think it was Verso that brought out the English edition; for those who read Italian, the novel is here:

One book that I found really interesting was Leonardo Sciascia's piece on the Moro kidnapping, which argued that some Christian Democrats were rather less-than-eager to actually find and save their party's president. The English version is simply titled The Moro Affair and was released in a nice paperback edition by the New York Review of Books classics series in 2004. In general I enjoy Sciascia as a writer as well--many of his novels are in print in good English translations.

I am interested in recommendations about books on state involvement with certain acts of "terror"/"struggle"--both terms are loaded, perhaps I should just write "violence"--as well as state manipulation of groups on either the far-Left and far-Right. I'm interested in conspiracy theory only to the extent that, at certain points during these years, conspiracies may be somewhat plausible as partial explanations. I'm not interested in stuff that is just retroactive excuse-making coming from whatever political sphere, be that Left, Right or Center. 

Interested in what others may recommend (of course with a vested interest in stuff that's in print in English.)
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Ugo Maria Tassinari is a communist journalist who has been focussing is work on far right/neo-fascism, maniacally reconstructing facts and accessing to an enormous amount of documentation.
His books fascisteria, guerrieri and naufraghi are the most in depths works on the subject ever released in Italy, making substantial differences between the different waves and movements that were not working as a whole.
His grudges with -some- antifas is due to the fact that his research method included talking with fascism which in Italy is seen as a capital sin.

On the left side one of the best books I have read is Renato Curcio's LA MAPPA (the map), that is an extensive collection of communist victims of the lead years. Curcio was the mastermind of the first era Red Brigades.

Balestrini work is top notch. Try to see if you can find anything by mr Primo Moroni, Milan based anarchiest, sadly deceased some years ago, who has been at the center of any counterculture in MIlan. His book L'ORDA, The Horde, is the nicest portait of left wing movements between the 60s and the 70s.

Sciascia was at a different level. He was not linked to "alternative" culture, yet he's been linked to some lefties parties. Possibly one of the best "pens" we ever had.

Conspiracy led most of our 70's mass carnages and political decisions. When talking about conspiracy I mean the enormous pressure the US had in our ranks, and not reptilian/zog fairy tales.
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tiny_tove, thanks for the correction, my bad. Big difference between writing about something and advocating for it!

Both of those other suggestions seem really good. A friend of mine does occasional translation from Italian; I may see if he's interested in that Primo Moroni book.

Yes, NATO operations and US Cold War influence are certainly a big part of the story. I'm definitely interested in level-headed evaluations of this sort of stuff...

ConcreteMascara, while I certainly think that the German experience and the Red Army Faction are interesting topics--and there definite thematic similarities--I think that there can stand to be two threads. The Italian situation was much more complicated and multifaceted, particularly as there was at the same time the neo-fascist actions of "armed spontaneity" etc. So not blurring the two topics could be good (though I'd be interested if the other thread was revitalized, too.)

What are the best books about the Italian extreme-Right of this period? Materials by the aforementioned Ugo Maria Tassinari?
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Ahh, my kind of topic! To bad my Italian only consists of the most rudimentary words i.e. I do know how to order beer and coffé in Italy but that is about it.

I always wondered about what the Italians thought about Sanguettis's book "On Terrorism and the State"? The English translation is pretty awful and I struggled to read it all the way through when I went through my Situationist years.

Good books but slightly of topic that I've revisited lately are In Banks We Trust by Penny Lernoux and Their Kingdom Come by Robert Hutchison.

Both ties into the whole  Banco Ambrosiano scandal both from different angles. In Banks We Trust the Latin American angle and Their Kingdom Come the Opus Dei angle. Both wind up with the CIA and right-wing terror i.e. my pet obsessions.

Nil By Mouth

In this last years Italy bookstores was surrounded by tons of books about right/left extremism (prima linea, NAR, Brigate rosse), peoples biographies (Curcio, Concutelli, Fioravanti), undercover stories (Gladio? Juno Valerio Borghese?). Often some editors inaugurated book series about this, just thinking about Sperling&Kupfer, they released "Anni di piombo" of the already mentioned authors Provvisionato and Baldoni. Another classic is "La notte della repubblica" of Sergio Zavoli. Great and powerful are also "A mano armata - Vita violenta di Giusva Fioravanti" and expecially "Io, l'uomo nero", respectively about Giusva Fioravanti (maybe anyone Edwife Fenech fans see him younger on "Grazie nonna"?) and Pierluigi Concutelli.

Italy postwar periods are full of strong, powerful and exciting stories. A pity that the almost whole bibliography are not translated in english


I have changed title.
I will post contribution this evening or tomorrow at the latest.
Aldo, "A mano armata" is an excellent book that whover is interested in the most violent moments of those years should read, but it is more a true crime book than an in depth political source.
It describres pretty well the atmosphere and how a middle class boy can become a killing machine, but there is not much analysis.
More about the subject later.
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So I have finally found some time to answer regarding this.
>>>Yes, NATO operations and US Cold War influence are certainly a big part of the story. I'm definitely interested in level-headed evaluations of this sort of stuff...

The whole NATO thing has surely been one of the leading problems that led to the escalation of violence at subtle level. But you have to keep in mind that this should not distract by the fact that there were many actors at play and situations were really complicated.
The PCI was the biggest communist party in the Western world. This scared many countries, apart from the Democratic Christians, the whole western block felt the dangerous too close.
The Pci  was much more liberal than the Eastern block and was mostly gathering workers who weren't craving to live in a absolutist country like URRS, yet was facing inner contradictions AND STILL HAVING STRONG ties to the KGB (Putin himself was living in Italy around the time).

The radical left was a mix of tendencies that included pacifists, the autonomous left, ideological groups advocating political struggle in a cultural way and others interested in different levels of armed struggle (Prima Linea and the Red Brigades that, in my opinion, were the most sophisticated and had very interesting leaders, like Renato Curcio).

The right was completely alike. You had the MSI, the official right wing party, formed after the war, started as a nostalgic group of leftovers of the old RSI (many of which instead joined the PCI after an invitation from Togliatti. People like Nobel prize Dario Fo, Eugenio Scalfari, Roberto Bocca and Pietro Ingraio, where either RSI volunteer soldiers or journalists for magazines as "The defence of the Race") to become one of the leading parties, precious for the Democratic Christians to loan votes, etc. The MSI definitely had an orthodox fascist base, especially in the youth groups, but for a long-time have been filo-American, with pro-Zionist elements (while youth organisation FDG was pro-palestine) and, despite the past, definitely conservative, while most groups of the radical right were shifting into a revolutionary approach. Exactly as in the extreme left, there were different groups and individuals acting differently and following the most diverse ideas/philosophies, from the street fighters of San Babila, to the intellectuals of the so-called New Right that organised the Campi Hobbit and invested into metapolitics, from strict anti-Communist groups allegedly in contact with the secret services, to the Third Position, quite different in stances and philosophy from what it is called Third Position now that saw America/Nato as enemies and not allies against communism.

When talking about those years it is important to keep in mind that there was a left or a right that could be considered as a whole. Although there were collaborations or people shifting from one movement to another (even turning from left to right and viceversa, as Curcio who as a kid used to be part of Jean Thiriart's Jeune Europe to then start the Red Brigades. Although Jeune Europe had national-bolshevic stances that could start another discussion). So when talking about the Red Brigades you are not necessarily considering the thoughts of other groups that never spilled one drop of blood, the same goes with the NAR, who were fighting their war almost as leaderless resistance group, differently by other groups that were fighting in the street for turf control, but were more ideological and worked in perspective on another form of society, although some of the other groups joined the NARs or just shared fights during bank robberies.
Regarding the bombs. I think in the next years we will witness many changes in history regarding this. New documents, new witnesses, more in depth researches are showing reality as a bit more complicated. Especially the Bologna bomb. Several left wing journalists wrote books claiming that the NAR were scapegoats, something the radical right always stated. Consider that the key witnesses of the trial were Angelo Izzo (a goon/rapist who killed at least 3 persons, serial killer who has been getting many advantages during his jail time thanks to his testimonies), or Sparti, a forger whose son recently said that his dad was boasting about making everything up, etc. Carlos –the Jackal- recent interviews give a completely different version of the whole story, and then we have secret services, freemasons, etc.

I think next years are going to be very interesting.
I will check for the Carlos interview during lunch break and post it.
My personal idea regarding the whole subject is irrelevant and vague. At the moment I am pretty excited by the pact between state and mafia to end up the bombings of the late 80's early 90's. This is something even more complicated.
There are also rumours regarding THE RING, allegedly Andreotti's secret society that was even more hidden than Gladio (Cossiga's anti-Communist organisation that included many militaries), some very intense documentation regarding the involvement of some big names of the Red Brigades in international CIA baked spy networks and last, but not least, the PCI high ranks already knowing details about several bombings. I think that many pages we know about those years are going to be deleted and confirming things we already know and with some  news nobody ever imagined.

Regarding books start with these:
Ugo Maria Tassinari: Fascisteria, Guerrieri and Naufraghi. Check also the DVD "Tutti I colori del nero", featuring interviews with several leading characters of the old and new radical right, talking mostly about culture. There is an in depth interview regarding jail with Mario Tuti.
Nicola Rao: La fiamma e la celtica. 60 years of post fascism, with extensive interviews. Best part is the one with Maurizio Murelli and the San Babila's years. Murelli is the person behind ORION, a now defunct magazine that was featuring also left wing and Islamic articles.
Renato Curcio – The Map – Massive work regarding left wing deaths during the lead years. Possibly the best book regarding the people behind it.
Primo Moroni – L'Orda – Everything you need to know about the left wing side of those years
Regarding fascism/secret services check ATTACCO ALLA DEMOCRAZIA by Giuliano Montaldo. Back then it was quite documented, but now several things said in the documentary have changed. But still an amazingly done documentary with plenty of impressive images.
As said somewhere else don't miss the ORCHESTRE NOIR documentaries, featuring long interviews with Delle Chiaie.

as usual sorry for mispells
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Nil By Mouth

Nice analysis and informations, thanks Depla. By the way, last sunday I have find an used copy of "La notte più lunga della repubblica", written by the already mentioned Provvisionato and Baldoni


an excerpt from the Corriere della Sera interview to Carlos, there were further words regarding the subject dated 2009/2010, but I can't find them at the moment. obviously what he says is not necessarily true.

'Carlos the Jackel' Blames CIA, Mossad, for Deadly 1980 Bombing

The 1980 bombing of Bologna's main train station was orchestrated by the CIA and the Mossad to 'punish Rome' for its tolerance of Palestinian guerilla groups. According to this interview from Italy's Corriere della Sera, the notorious Cold-War terrorist 'Carlos the Jackel' claims that leftists like his Communist Revolutionary Internationalist Movement were framed for crimes by neo-fascists 'manipulated' into committing them.

From our correspondent Paolo Biondani

Translated By Enrico Del Sero

November 23, 2005
Original Article (Italian)    

Ilic Ramirez Sanchez, Also Known as Carlos the Jackal
READ: More About 'The Jackal'

PARIS: Ilic Ramirez Sanchez, also known as "Carlos the Jackal," is jailed in the historic Le SantÈ prison [France], and denies any complicity or connivance in the (1980) Bologna massacre.

Being a top-security prisoner, the only person he can speak to is Mr. Sandro Clementi, his Italian lawyer. In the morning he spends over three hours analyzing and comparing dozens of attacks and concludes that the "Mitrokhin Commission wants to falsify history," as armed Marxist groups "never organized indiscriminate massacres," but always attacked "well-identified enemies or traitors."

According to Carlos, the August 2, 1980 massacre (85 victims) was not only "performed by young neo-fascists," but "organized by the CIA and Mossad" in order to "punish and subdue Rome."

In other words, [the attack] was a "reprisal" against our [Italy's] policy of tolerance toward Palestinian terrorist groups (in exchange for their commitment not to attack Italy). The train station bombing, then, should be attributed to a secret war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the two sides battling one another through opposing terrorist and intelligence networks.

According to Carlos, what best confirms this is the very presence of Thomas Kram, the person who, according to Mitrokhin commissioners, allowed a new line of investigation involving the left in the bombing.

A Photo of Ilic 'Jackal' Ramirez Sanchez From Last Year.

[Editor's Note: The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM)[READ MORE] is an international Communist organization which upholds Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Carlos the Jackel is said to be the founder of the group. Recently discovered documents confirmed that one day before the attack in Bologna, Thomas Kram, a German citizen, at the time aged 32, who was thought to be a member of the RIM, stayed at a hotel in the center of Bologna the night before the bombing.]

That is, Kram's presence is evidence that could deny the sentences of two right-wing Roman terrorists, Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro [for the Bologna Bombing]. In answer to the questions we asked of him, "Carlos" dictated four long pages in Italian. He then spent four hours proofreading and editing them. Finally, he dated and signed them.

Corriere della Sera: When, by whom and what have you known about the Bologna massacre?

From Corriere della Sera[Click for Larger Version]

Carlos the Jackel: We have always been convinced that it was organized by the American and Israeli services, they are the true "lords of the black terror" in Italy. A while after the massacre, I received a written report from West Germany. It is very important and should still be in the archives of our Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). The report said that a German fellow had left the station a few seconds before the explosion took place. I recalled his name, Thomas Kram, in reading the Corriere. He was a communist and a teacher from Bochum [Germany], who had taken refuge in Perugia [Italy]. The day before the massacre he was in Rome, tailed by secret agents who also followed him onto a train to Bologna. Kram only carried a plastic bag with personal belongings, but had he died in the attack, it would have been very easy to blame him for everything that happened.

Corriere della Sera: Was Kram one of your men? Do you know whether the night before the massacre he stayed at the Centrale hotel in Bologna?

Carlos the Jackel: Kram has never been a member of the RIM. You should ask him whether he stayed in Bologna that night and why. I don't know.

Corriere della Sera: Do you know Abu Saleh Anzeh?

Soldier Handles an Srela Missile, Prevalent in the Late 1960s.

Carlos the Jackel: Saleh Abu Anzeh is by now known, after 30 years, as the one who represents the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Italy. The PFLP was the mother organization to us, to which we were connected through political and personal relationships.

Corriere della Sera: Do you know about threats from Palestine against Italy after the arrest of Saleh, together with Daniele Pifano of the Autonomous Movement, due to the Strela Missiles found on November 7, 1979 in Ortona?

Carlos the Jackel: That was just a logistical transport through Italy, and the arrests were a provocation by enemy agents inside the Italian services. The PFLP didn't need to take action against Italy and always observed bilateral agreements. Saleh was maintaining official contacts with the Italian civil and military services.

Corriere della Sera: What do you think about Mambro and Fioravanti's final sentence?

[Editor's Note: Neo-fascists Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro were convicted for executing the bombings in Bologna].

Carlos the Jackel: My idea is that, if they are guilty, somebody was backing them up. Somebody able to manipulate young neo-fascists. As happened with regard to Piazza Fontana [another bombing]. The fact that they never spoke, though, leads me to believe they are innocent.

Jaques Chirac: A Narrow Escape

Corriere della Sera: You are serving a life sentence for having killed two French policemen, but are still under investigation for two train bombings: 5 victims on March 29, 1982 and 2 victims on December 31, 1983.Ý

Carlos the Jackel: I have nothing to do with the train bombings, which is confirmed by the judicial acts themselves. The first bombing [March, 1982] was planted behind Jacques Chirac's chair, whom we [RIM] supported from 1974 until 1998. I never made an attempt on Chirac's life. And the second bomb was definitely part of the confession of Talbi, a mercenary [French] legionnaire.

Corriere della Sera: Would you undergo an interrogation by Italian magistrates?

Carlos the Jackel: It must be clear that I am not a police informer and would never denounce political militants. But I am quick to testify against all kinds of traitors.
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Will the Bologna Investigation be Re-opened to Identify the Real Perpetrators of the Massacre and the Atrocities of The Strategy of Tension?

user posted image

Former left-wing activist, and current spokesman for the Pdl government coalition in Italy, Daniele Capezzone, publicly called for the investigation into the Bologna Bombing to be re-opened on the 29th anniversary of the horrific massacre that shook Italy and the whole of Europe on August 2nd, 1980.

Capezzone expressed what many people of all political persuasions believe about the terrorist atrocity and the events surrounding it when he stated that there are still "serious doubts" relating to the facts surrounding the massacre, and the guilt of those convicted for directly carrying out the bombing.

Capezzone stated that "The reconstructed in judgments leaves doubts heavy, and I think justified, in many of us. The 'dogma' of the fascist massacre seems rather an assumed ideological convenience for many, but certainly does not seem a convincing truth."

The call for the investigation to be fully re-opened comes at a time when Valerio Fioravanti, the leader of the armed gang that was immediately blamed for planting the bomb, has just been released from prison after 29 years.

Fioravanti and fellow NAR activist Francesca Mambra, whom was also convicted on the same charge and whom he later married in prison, have always denied any involvement in the Bologna massacre whilst at the same time readily admitting to a number of killings and robberies of banks and arms depots.

In April 2007 Luigi Ciavardini, who has always stated that Fioravanti and Mambro were with him in Treviso when the bombing took place in Bologna, was also given final sentence, after a long appeals process lasting many years, to 30 years imprisonment for planting the bomb in Bologna. Incredibly, the conviction is based on absolutely no evidence other than hearsay.

The Bologna massacre became the climax of a period known in Italy as "the years of lead".

After the destruction of Italy during the Second World War the United States found that they had created a situation where Italy was in serious danger of becoming a Communist satellite State allied to the Soviet Union.

In a long-term strategic response known as Operation Gladio, the US and NATO began to organise underground guerrilla cells and secret arms depots facilitated by the P2 Masonic Lodge and Italian crime syndicates.

A destabilisation campaign was orchestrated that resulted in kidnappings, assassinations and bombings involving the Red Brigades on the one hand, and CIA/P2/crime syndicate sponsored cells on the other, which were blamed generically on 'neo-fascists'.

The 'Strategy of Tension', as it has come to be known, also resulted inevitably in widespread tit for tat violence on the streets and in the schools between young anarchists/communists and nationalists.

A few of these street groups, from both sides, degenerated into little more than armed criminal gangs. It is to one of these groups, Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR), to which the blame for the Bologna Bombing massacre was immediately attributed by the powers-that-be.

The result was a vicious mass round-up of hundreds of young nationalists, the vast majority of whom had been engaged in purely political actions opposed to both left and right wings of the System. Beatings, tortures, imprisonments without trial and murders in custody were the order of the day.

The investigations and trials relating to the Bologna massacre and the surrounding events of those years eventually determined that the head of the P2 Masonic Lodge, Licio Gelli, and General Pietro Musumeci, Second-in-Command of the Italian Military Intelligence Secret Service (SISMI), as well as SISMI operatives Francesco Pazienza and Giuseppe Belmonte, had fabricated evidence against a number of young nationalists in order to tie them in with the Bologna terrorist outrage and similar atrocities.
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Finally got around to reading the new posts on this... Thanks for the lengthy overview post, tiny_tove! I agree that this whole era is complex, and would not argue that anything should be reduced to one single factor such as NATO influence, etc...

I found the Carlos interview to be interesting, but not because I think his allegations are correct--more because it's interesting in itself  that this is what he's presently saying... I would need to see a significant amount of additional corroborating evidence, before giving his claims much credence. Still, certainly relevant to the discussion here...

The New Right metapolitical figures who organized Campi Hobbit were mentioned briefly. I am interested in the European New Right, although I do not identify with it. I'm wondering what sort of influence its Italian figures had during this period. Despite the New Right "metapolitical" orientation, did they overlap with people actively pursuing a narrower political vision? What about those engaged in political violence from the Right? Who were the big names? Did the Italian figures have theories that set them apart from the better-known figures of the New Right in France?

Strömkarlen mentions Sanguinetti/"Censor" and On Terrorism and the State. I have never heard particularly good things about this work, but I may have to finally read through it some day. I remember hearing that some Italian anarchists were upset that both "Censor" and some of Debord's most conspiracy-based writings, got included in the Autonomia:Post-Political Politics volume published by Semiotext(e)--my recollection (which could be wrong) is that they felt that some sincere revolutionaries were being defamed by Sanguinetti and Debord, or that things were being reduced too much to a conspiracy script... (Not to deny that there were many conspiracies at the time, several historically significant...) By the way, it's likely that there's a .pdf of that Semiotext(e) book floating about on the web for those who want to search for it...
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I will get deeper in to that as soon as possible.

In the meantime, regarding the Italian Novelle Droite, check this interview to Marco Tarchi, one of the founders of that area. He used to run La Voce della Fogna, a cultural publication that was both cultural and satirical and was not always appreciated by the heads of the MSI.
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Quote from: tiny_tove on April 07, 2011, 11:55:16 AM
some very intense documentation regarding the involvement of some big names of the Red Brigades in international CIA baked spy networks and last, but not least, the PCI high ranks already knowing details about several bombings. I think that many pages we know about those years are going to be deleted and confirming things we already know and with some  news nobody ever imagined.

Sergio Flamigni books on Kaos Edizioni? are they worth buying?