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Neo-Fascist and Far Left Terrorists in Italy: Some Biographical Observations

  • Leonard Weinberg and William Lee Eubank


In recent years a good deal of concern has been expressed about the phenomenon of political terrorism in Italy. The mass media have directed our attention to spectacular acts of international terrorism committed on Italian soil by groups, largely from the Middle East, which have used the country as a teatro in which to stage their operations against targets of opportunity. Scholars and journalists have also drawn our attention to the problem of domestic terrorism. The kidnapping and assassination of the former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978 may serve as the most dramatic example. It seems fair to say that much of this publicity has been focused on the Left. The attempts by various leftist groups, the Red Brigades (BR), Front Line (PL), Worker Autonomy (AO) and others, to use terrorist violence as a means of bringing about a Communist revolution was a source of apprehension in the Western world from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Allegations that the revolutionary groups were aided by the Soviets or other Warsaw Pact nations, as part of an effort to destabilize the Western democracies, did much to heighten the concern.



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1 Pasquino, Gianfranco, ‘Differenze e Somiglianze: Per Una Ricerca Sul Terrorismo Italiano’, in della Porta, Donatella and Pasquino, Gianfranco, eds, Terrorismo e violenza politica (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1983), pp. 239–40.

2 See for example, Wasmund, Klaus, ‘The Political Socialization of West German Terrorists’, in Merkl, Peter, ed., Political Violence and Terror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 191228; Russell, Charles A. and Miller, Bowman H., ‘Profile of A Terrorist’, in Freedman, Lawrence and Alexander, Yonah, eds, Perspectives on Terrorism (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1983), pp. 4560; Rubenstein, Richard E., Alchemists of Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 1987), pp. 6585.

3 Hoffman, Bruce, Right-Wing Terrorism in Europe (Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation, 1984), pp. 1520; Merkl, Peter, ‘Rollerball or Neo-Nazi Violence?’ in Merkl, , ed., Political Violence and Terror, pp. 229–55; Zimmerman, Ekkart, ‘Terrorist Violence in West Germany: Some Reflections on Recent Literature’ (a paper presented at the XIII World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Paris, 1985); and Weinberg, Leonard, ‘The Radical Right and Varieties of Right-Wing Politics in The United States’ (a paper presented at the tenth annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Francisco, 1987).

4 It is true that Italy has French, Austrian and Slovenian minorities located in regions (Val d'Aosta, Trentino–Alto Adige, Friuli–Venezia Giulia) that enjoy certain constitutional protections. But these groups are hardly comparable in size or cultural background to the millions of extra-European immigrants or guest workers from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia to be found in West Germany and France.

5 Sartori, Giovanni, ‘European Political Parties: The Case of Polarized Pluralism’, in LaPalombara, Joseph and Weiner, Myron, eds, Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp. 137–76.

6 For a history of the MSI see Rosenbaum, Petra, Il nuovo fascismo (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1975); and Weinberg, Leonard, After Mussolini (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1979).

7 Quoted in Salierno, Giulio, Autobiografia di un picchiatore fascista (Turin: Einaudi editore, 1976). p. 86.

8 Zangrandi, Ruggero, Inchiesta sul SIFAR (Rome: Riuniti, 1970), pp. 70–9.

9 Monicelli, Mino, L'Ultrasinistra in Italia: 1968–1978 (Bari: Laterza, 1978), pp. 44–7.

10 Ferraresi, Franco, ‘La destra eversiva’, in Ferraresi, Franco, ed., La destra radicale (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1984), pp. 62–3.

11 See the report of Tina Anselmi, President of the parliamentary investigating committee on Propaganda Due. published as a special supplement, Il complotto di Licio Gelli in L'Espresso, 20 05 1984, pp. 3743.

12 Capaldo, Giancarlo et al. , ‘L'Eversione di destra a Roma dal '77 ad oggi’, Questions Giustizia, 2 (1983), 935–79.

13 The newspapers from which the information was obtained were La Stampa and La Repubblica. The court records include: Luigi Gennaro, Guidice Istruttore, Ordinanza/Sentenza N 2736/80A (Tribunale di Roma); di Firenze, Corte D'Assise D'Apello, Sentenza (12 12 1978), Sentenza (9 04 1976), and Sentenza (11 11 1977). These records provided biographical information about some members of Third Position, New Order, National Vanguard and the National Revolutionary Front.

14 The newspaper accounts were taken once again from La Stampa and La Repubblica. The court records from which information was obtained were as follows: Francesco Amato, Giudice Istruttore, Ordinanza/Sentenza N/1067/79, Tribunale di Roma; Giudice Istruttore, Sentenza/Ordinanza 231/83, Tribunale Civile E Penale di Milano; Giudice Istruttore, Ordinanza N228/81, Tribunale Civile E Penale di Milano; Publicco Ministero, Requisitoria N921/80F, Procura della Repubblica in Milano; Ferdinando Imposimato, Giudice Istruttore, Ordinanza/Sentenza N 54/80A, Tribunale di Roma; Giudice Istruttore, Ordinanza/Sentenza 490/81F, Tribunal Civile E Penale di Milano; di Torino, Corte D'Assise, Sentenza N 17/81 (28 07 1981); Di Milano, Corte D'Assise D'Appello, Sentenza N 70/80 (9 04 1981); and di Firenze Sentenza, Corte D/Assise (24 04 1983).

15 De Felice, Renzo, Mussolini il fascista: la conquista del potere (Turin: Einaudi editore, 1966), p. 7.

* Department of Political Science, University of Nevada–Reno.

Neo-Fascist and Far Left Terrorists in Italy: Some Biographical Observations

  • Leonard Weinberg and William Lee Eubank


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