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GNOSIS 1/2010

A conversation with the President

President of the Anti-terrorism Strategic Analysis Committee

Since 1973, after a short period of service at the Police Partol Office in Palermo he has always been involved in Counter terrorism activities, serving in various field branches as well as in the Central Headquarters. Until being appointed “Questore” of Latina he served as Director of the Counterterrorism Service of the Central Dept. of Police Prevention becoming, at last, Deputy Director of the Department. He was subsequently appointed “Questore” of Brescia, Catania and Turin. While in charge of the Drugs Central Dept., he acquired experience both at the central and at the international level and from Dec. 28th 2009 he returned to the Central Dept. of Police Prevention as newly appointed Director. Often involved in the operational activity, during his mandate as Questore of Catania he was awarded the “Rosario Livatino” prize in reward for his commitment against organized crime.

On the 11th September, two airplanes strike the “Twin Towers”; the smoke, the collapse of the two colossal buildings, the smell of death feeds the “circuit of fear” in the Western world which, suddenly, reveals an unexpected weakness. Since then, the awareness of the lost “inviolability” has prompted every Country to increase security measures to protect their territory against national and international threats and has favoured the creation of coordination and synergy centers between all security bodies.
In Italy, the Anti-terrorism Strategic Analysis Committee (C.A.S.A.) has been created, the evolution and growth of which has been retraced by Gnosis, meeting with Prefect Stefano Berrettoni, Director of the Prevention Police, expert in the fight against terrorism, and President of the Committee.

The C.A.S.A.

The Anti-terrorism Strategic Analysis Committee created in 2003, an initiative of the Minister of the Interior when, after the terrorist attack against the Italian Contingent in Nassirya, Italy realized it had to strategically and tactically face the shared threat of the jihadist terrorism.
The C.A.S.A., officially institutionalized in 2004, is delegated to enhance the synergy between Police and Intelligence Institutions and to form – con procedure snelle e deburocratizzate – with streamlined and de-bureaucratized procedures the assessment of information flows relative to the internal and international terrorist threats. In fact, it performs tasks of analyzing important information inherent in terrorist planning and also against Italian interests abroad, to allow the activation of the preventive measures held to be necessary, and provides for planning and coordination aimed at preventing events of a terrorist nature.
The Committee works in function of support to the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of the Interior – a body delineated for the management of emergency following “events that involve the different security aspects”” (1) – which supplies the investigative and informative elements acquired in the circumstances.
The C.A.S.A, originally composed of Senior Officers of the Carabinieri, Senior Executives of the State Police and Representatives of the Intelligence Agencies has, over the years, been modified and now includes Officers of the Guardia della Finanza (2) and Representatives of the Department of Prison Administration (D.A.P) (3) .
The Committee meets each week (every Thursday) – unless for specially called meetings following exceptional events – to monitor and constantly update terrorist threats.

The activities of analysis

The C.A.S.A. analysis concerns information on situations – often in the planning stage – which could produce risks in the general panorama of the security. The information analyzed can permit the decryption of a phenomenon in the same way that the evaluation that follows can motivate prevention strategies.
The evaluation regards information coming from a circuit, principally supplied:
- by Police Bodies and Information and Security Agencies, in relation to the investigative and informative activities carried out on the territory;
- by the Judicial Authorities, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure;
- by Police Bodies of other Countries, in contexts of International collaboration of Police and Intelligence;
- from activities of the Liaison Officers (Europol, Interpol etc.)
- from reports of Public Administrations;
- from open sources and acquisitions on the Web, using OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) processing.
The Committee also:
- analyzes the documentation and messaging coming from subversive internal and International groups;
- assesses the impact, in security terms, of the most significant demonstrations;
- considers the risks connected with conducting large events on the National territory.

The prevention initiatives

On the basis of the assessment carried out, the C.A.S.A. plans and coordinates the prevention activities of events of a terrorist nature planned to be carried out on the National territory.
In such ambit, it provides:
- the control of traditional places of aggregation of non-community persons (call centers, internet points, ethnic concerns etc.,) and at times, frequented by radical elements for the purpose of proselytism;
- the monitoring of the messaging of sites and blogs, both of jihadist inspiration, utilized on the media as an expression of the fundamentalist diffusion, and traceable to the extreme antagonism;
- in-depth information on dangerous subjects with precursory finality of provisions for expulsion from the National territory;
- the prison monitoring – done in strict collaboration with the DAP – to individuate possible works of proselytism carried out within the Institutes where subjects are detained for terrorist activities;
- controls, made with the professional contribution of the Guardia della Finanza, on subjects and associations suspected of financing terrorist organizations.
A technical work group – composed of representatives of the Committee structure – establishes the implementation modalities of the prevention initiatives deliberated by the C.A.S.A. and entrusted to the Police Bodies on the National territory.

The International relations

Over the years, the Committee has intensified relations with foreign homologous bodies, and not only at a European level, but particularly, with the United States. At the end of 2007, a technical agreement of bilateral cooperation was stipulated for the monitoring of subjects involved in terrorism activities.
The Agreement provides that – in accordance with their own legislations – Italy and the United States can exchange information through a direct data base interconnection, concerning subjects who are wanted, investigated or condemned for International terrorist crimes. The common data base will be managed in the C.A.S.A. ambit and supplied with information furnished by the Police Forces and Intelligence Agencies participating in the Committee.
Last year, representatives of the C.A.S.A. participated in a meeting, in Paris, between the Coordination Centers of the EU member States, for the fight against terrorism. It was organized by the French Body, UCLA. The C.A.S.A. also attended a meeting, in Madrid, at the Spanish CNCA, on the subject “Globalization of the information and terrorism: radicalization, propaganda and incitement on the Internet”.

The evaluation of the threat

In facing the threat of the fundamentalist terrorism at the general level, Prefect Berrettoni feels that after the Milan attack of last October 4th (4) , our Country cannot be considered a transit hub for the jihad or logistics support of the Mujhaddin, but rather the target, from the Shahid point of view.
In Italy – particularly, in the North – rooted and structured communities of immigrants exist, which are, by now, “second generation” immigrants from which “home-grown” fundamentalists can develop and who, by using the telematics communication and the Web manuals of martyrdom, could transform themselves into self made terrorists.
The emergence of the “do it yourself” terrorism cannot, however, exclude the threat coming from the structured groups: it is not simple to separate the individual contribution from the organizational contexts or from internationally connected networks which cultivate the primary objective of “striking the infidels on his own home ground”.
From the internal viewpoint, the most significant expression of the threat comes from the galaxy of the insurrectional anarchy, which, notwithstanding the fundamental ideological individualism, it seems to be formed in groups which direct their actions against the symbols of the State and the Capital.
In the insurrectional anarchic ambit, the Web transmits the multiple appeals to a choral action of revolt, with particular reference to the anti-repressive, anti-securitarian and environmentalist themes.
From the Marxist-Leninist ideological perspective, the alarm is certainly less evident. However, the brigade groups although hard hit by the investigative results, exercise a residual fascination in some extremist environment which, in any case – apart from the present difficult economic situation – they are unable to convey this aggressive conduct to the streets.
There exists a kind of fractioning of the antagonist world, evidenced and multiplied by the lack of a charismatic leader.
So, the transversal aggregation prevails, which links different antagonist components (social, anarchic, Marxist-Leninist centers) in a common tendency to rebelliousness on subjects of strong social impact, (environmental defence, anti-militarism and anti-fascism).
The social networks (and more in general, the Web), virtual multiplier of dissent, seem to be the new instruments of aggregation. However, the virtual sharing can fragment the unity of the protest, relocating it and scattering it here and there on the territory.
Finally, the hypotheses of convergent interests between groups of Marxist-Leninist inspiration and those of jihadist matrix are currently placed on the level of “philosophical integration” tied to the common denominator of anti-imperialism, paying, however, the unbridgeable differences between those of materialistic ideology and those of religious inspiration.


The characteristics of a technical body and strategic board of investigative comparison and of Intelligence, makes the Committee a flexible, effective non-bureaucratic instrument, characterized by the rapidity in acquisition of information, its verification and the consequent assessment of the risks.
The intervention of the AISE and AISI – Intelligence Agencies with different skills and diversified information channels – alongside the main bodies of the Investigative Police makes the C.A.S.A. a kind of “club” of experts in terms of strategies and of the “reductio ad unum” of safeguarding National security information.
In the assessment/prevention framework of offensive planning, the role of the Intelligence Agencies becomes extremely significant, both in anticipating the mechanisms of prevention at the pre-investigative phase, and to outline the contours of the “scenario” in which to place a case of uncertain matrix or an activity which is suspect, but cannot be assessed immediately
“I believe”, concludes Prefect Berrettoni, “that the activities carried out until now, have confirmed the validity of a work method based on the intense and continual collaboration and consultation between Institutional Actors on the stage of the National security”.

The 2009 final Evaluation

Last year, the Committee assessed an overall 225 threat alerts, attending 53 meetings, two of which were special ones in relation to:
- Kabul attack of 17th September, 2009 – explosion of a car bomb in the passage of an Italian military convoy – 6 soldiers were killed and 4 seriously wounded;
- Explosive attack in Milan, 12th October, 2009 –Last year, the Committee assessed an overall 225 threat alerts, attending 53 meetings, two of which were special ones in relation to:
- Kabul attack of 17th September, 2009 – explosion of a car bomb in the passage of an Italian military convoy – 6 soldiers were killed and 4 seriously wounded;
- Explosive attack in Milan, 12th October, 2009 – against the Santa Barbara Army Barracks – a Libyan attacker was seriously injured.
In the International ambit, subjects in relation to the following were treated:
- security conditions in Afghanistan;
- situations in the Maghreb Countries;
- Israeli-Palestine conflict;
- security situation in Lebanon;
- security picture in Somalia;
- activities of the Kurdish Extremist Movement PKK-Kongra/GEL;
- antiterrorist operations in European Countries and North Africa.
With reference to the domestic situation, the following are underlined:
- the Summit of Heads of State G8 in Aquila, from the 7th to the 9th of July, (profiles of threat assessment at National and International levels);
- a solidarity initiative, in Italy and abroad, for the trial of the brigade terrorist arrested in the course of the operation “Sunset”;
- review of area documents;
- attack in Rome (21 April, 2009) claimed under the name “Proletarian Resistance Cell”;
- worsening of the conflicts in the work area relative to the lay-offs necessitated by the economic crisis;
- activism of the anarchic insurrectional component, both on National territory and abroad.

(1) Law N. 333 of the 2nd July, 2002.
(2) After the terrorist attacks in London of 2005.
(3) From October, 2008, the DAP contribution is circumscribed to the area of the Prison, where they can create contacts between prisoners detained for terrorist attacks and other prisoners.
(4) On the 12th October, a Libyan citizen, Mohamed GAME, with the complicity of two other North Africans exploded a partially detonated device – with kamikaze intention – in front of the Santa Barbara Barracks entrance. He was gravely injured.