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GNOSIS 3/2005
The international network of Italian terrorism

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Much has been said and written on the international connections of Italian terrorism, and particularly, of the Red Brigades. Here, we would like to present the results of an analysis elaborated by our Intelligence Service at the beginning of the 1980’s already de-classified, by the middle of the 1990’s, on the request of the Magistracy.The analysis, compiled from three different information channels, (information sources, foreign intelligence services and declarations from the first ‘reformed’ terrorists), has found significant confirmation in the testimonies given by some leaders of the Red Brigade organization during trial.

Information, from different sources, gathered between the end of the 1970’s and the beginning of the 1980’s, indicated the existence of an “international structure” of terrorism, based in Paris, having the task of co-ordinating the actions of the various subversive groups operating in Europe (IRA, ETA, NAPAP, RAF), with the aim of fitting them into a unique process of destabilizing the Atlantic Alliance and the western democracies.

The essential nucleus of this French “structure” was the language Institute, Hyperion, to which French and Italian citizens reported.
The Institute also acted as intermediary for meetings between Italian and foreign terrorists (Palestinian, German, Irish) who, for security reasons, would usually hold these meetings on French territory.
Such meetings, which were attended by high level activists of the Red Brigades, such as Mario Moretti, Laura Braghetti, Vincenzo Guagliardo and Giovanni Senzani, were intensified after the Aldo Moro kidnapping and assassination.
Mario Moretti himself, mentioned in his book – interview: “after Moro’s kidnapping, everyone tried to contact us. The Raf, the Eta, the Olp, some French comrades. We established meetings in Paris” (1) .
In the summer of 1978, a meeting was arranged, in Paris, between Mario Moretti and an O.L.P. representative (whose identity was never revealed, but presumably, he covered the role of “Minister of the Interior” of that organization).
There were many objectives pursued by the Red Brigades and the Palestinians. In particular, the R.B. mainly needed arms and explosives, assistance for fugitives abroad and access to training camps in Lebanon.
The O.L.P. instead, gave priority to the possibility of commissioning the R.B to make attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Italy. Such a strategy corresponded to the Palestinian wishes of not wanting to violate the “informal” commitment of not operating directly on Italian territory. The R.B., furthermore, would have to hold weapons for the Palestinians, in Italy (2) .
The first result of the meeting was the delivery of a shipment of weapons, which was transported, by Mario Moretti and others, through an alpine pass in Liguria, in the summer of 1978.
This shipment included, among other things, some Kalashnikov machine guns, (one of which was used in the Piazza Nicosia assault against the Roman Provincial Committee of the D.C, while another was found in the hideout of Via Silvani, in Rome, in January 1982), a Rpg grenade launcher of soviet manufacture and a machine gun.
During the subsequent meetings, which continued until the arrest of Mario Moretti(April 198l), a sort of agreement was reached which, among other things, foresaw:
- assistance to Italian Red Brigade fugitives in France or Angola;
- arms supply by the O.L.P.;
- the planning, by the R.B., of attacks against Israeli targets (3) .
The crucial points of the agreement were the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. In particular, it was established that, in the case of participation in training courses, Brigade men would not be assisted by Palestinians in passing frontiers.
Furthermore, their documents should not permit that the responsibility of Italian presence be traced back to the O.L.P. (In fact, the O.L.P. did not look favourably on the Red Brigades’ request to have access to the Palestinian camps, for fear of eventual complications with the Italian government . For the same reason the O.L.P. representatives never accepted to meet Red brigades’ members in Italy).
According to reliable sources, the cooperation project between the R.B and the O.L.P. was particularly dear to the O.L.P. “Minister of the Interior”, since he represented a minority Marxist faction within the Organization.
The success of a possible anti-Israeli campaign, conducted on a European scale by various terrorist groups with which he was in contact, would, undoubtedly, have increased the influence of his faction within the O.L.P. Organization.
Mario Moretti, in fact, maintains to have had contacts with a section of the O.L.P. “of communist tendency, which looked towards Europe with great hope. It was important for them to create a strong opposition, armed if possible, in the countries of the Mediterranean area, to weaken the vice-hold of American Imperialism in the Middle East” (4) .
In the summer of 1979, the O.L.P. agreed to supply the R.B. with another shipment of weapons, to be delivered in Cyprus, and for under-cover reasons, all of western manufacture.
In fact, in July – August of 1979, Mario Moretti, Riccardo Dura and two other R.B. men embarked on the “Papagos”, a yacht, property of a psychiatrist of Ancona, and sailed to Cyprus, (according to our information; in reality, Moretti – see box on the following page – speaks of a “stop” in Cyprus and of a ‘consignment’ on the Lebanese coast.
The shipment included, among other things, about 150 Sterling machine guns (5) , about ten Fal rifles of Belgian manufacture and 5-6 hundredweight of plastic explosive (transported to the Island by Palestinian boats).
In part, the material was distributed to the various “columns” of the Red Brigades and, in part, to hidden deposits situated in Sardinia and the vicinity of Treviso, (the “Montello” deposit).
The weapons which were to be kept available for the O.L.P. were countersigned by a blue “F” to indicate the “Front”.
The arms which were destined for Rome were transported by train, in November 1979, by Antonio Savasta and other men and distributed to the hideouts of Via Silvani, Via Pesci, Via D’Andrea and Via Tiburtina.

Anabasi editions, April 1994

...We had ex-patriot companions in France, some years ago, who were able to connect us with all the relatively important revolutionary movements. (…) We were very interested in Eta and extremely interested in the Palestine Liberation Movement. (…) What interested us were the political relations, the fraternity ,… to do something for the OLP.(…) We embarked on the “Papagos” (…) We set sail from Ancona for Cyprus, where we awaited the appointment (…) On the fixed day, we met in open sea near Tripoli in Lebanon, and transferred, from one boat to another, the arms which were prepared in jute sacks. The Palestinians preferred to do the loading at sea because in that moment, they had the control of part of the city (…) The arms took different routes, a part was distributed in the bases of each column. (The arms for IRA) were deposited in Sardinia, with the help of Barbagia Rossa, a fighting formation rooted in the Nuora territory, which has a capillary network among the shepherds of the area.”

In the “Montello” deposit (a hole, two-metres deep), some of the material transported by the “Papagos” was found. Among which were magazines, Fal rifles, eight Sterling guns and some tubes of nitro-glycerine.
After Mario Moretti’s arrest, the ‘Front’ in the gaols (then headed by Senzani) and the other Columns of the organization, tried to get the Parisian telephone number of the organization, in order to re-establish contact with the French network.
Moretti, the only one to have the telephone number, was not able to recall it, perhaps, due to the emotional stress of his arrest (6) and, consequently, the contact with France was interrupted.
In the second half of 1981, a split between the “party wing” (the Senzani group) and the “orthodox wing”(columns of Rome. Genoa and Mestre) began to appear.
The reasons for such a profound dissension are varied and complex and have their roots in ideological and operative problems (7) .
However, we are lead to assume that among the various reasons for the schism between “party” and “militarists” is their contrasting evaluation on the benefit of maintaining ties with the foreign organizations.
What can be considered illuminating in his regard, are the contents of a manuscript which was in the hands of Giovanni Senzani, at the moment of his arrest and which contained information of great importance.
In the script (edited with frequent notes and abbreviations which, at times, rendered the interpretation very difficult), the writer expresses the opinion that the KGB were able to “pilot” the activity of the major European and Palestinian terrorist organizations, functioning against the Western powers.
In particular, according to Senzani, the U.S.S.R. would have been interested in causing the failure of the so-called Euro-Socialist axis established between Kreisky and Mitterand, whose politics of attention towards the moderate wing of the OLP., headed by Arafat, was considered contrary to the soviet interests in the Middle East chessboards.
In this regard, Alberto Franceschini recalled: “in Paris we discussed geopolitics, the great games of the East and West, mainly, the European and Mediterranean chessboard. We discussed the great players. Not only the U.S.S.R and the USA, but also, to make an example, a French - Austrian socialist axis, a third player, the Mitterand Kreisky axis … (8)
Still according to Senzani, the Soviet Secret Service were giving support to the extremist Palestinian faction headed by Abu Nidal, whose activity was aimed at disrupting the projects (supported also by Arafat) for peace plans in the Middle – East.
On whatever bases Senzani’s opinions are formed, they must have been evaluated with the maximum attention, inasmuch as, they came from “a privileged observer” of the clandestine world, where for years, exasperated and ambiguous interests had been stirred up.
The “Senzani group” kept direct relations with the French environment, contrary to the “militarist group” (openly accused of having become pawns in a game in which the rules had been established by the soviets).
In particular, the Brigade members of the “party” wing had contact with someone by the name of “Paul” (whom, it was supposed, frequently, went to Rome) and a person called “Catherine”.
According to convergent information originating from another source, a Frenchman, named Paul, also procured weapons for the IRA.
The fact that, in the already cited note of Senzani, the line, “IRA – also through Paul” was written verbatim, leads us to suppose that the unknown French citizen (working on whose behalf is not known) had maintained relations – maybe for reasons of liaison and supply – also between the IRA and the R.B. “party” wing.
Furthermore, it appears from a document confiscated in January 1982, from the “Senzani group” hideout, that the “party” wing of the R.B. had in programme, the founding of an “external column”.
This document appeared to be of extreme interest because it contained (although often, in a concealed form) a close examination of the state of the relations between the R.B’ members and foreign groups or foreign States.
The “external column” of R.B., should, in the intentions of the writers of the document , carry out the role of :
- recruitment, to recuperate the Italian refugees abroad and the cooptation of “international elements”;
- political and diplomatic direction, essential to the establishing of relations with the European clandestine movements, with the Third World liberation movements and the ‘progressive’ governments. The aim was to bring international attention to the problem of the anti-terrorist legislation and to the treatment of the “political prisoners”; to create difficulties for the “reformist alignment”; to make some forms of political and military cooperation possible and to create support centres for the “liberated comrades”;
- logistic management, for which the external column should operate as an archive centre, fugitive refuge base, procurement of arms, funds and supplies, elaboration centre of political and ideological material.
In the same document a general picture of the already active international relations, or those in the course of becoming active, was outlined.
Notwithstanding, that the countries were mentioned by means of a code number only, from an analysis of the written material, it could be deducted that while in Switzerland, the first stop for outgoing comrades from Italy, the terrorists had a good logistic network. In France, the R.B. could count on a solid self-managed local network (and for this very reason, France would have been preferred as the European seat of the “external column”).
In some African countries (of which only Angola could be identify with certainty), the “Senzani group” had also made ties with government authorities, while in Asia (presumably Cambodia), excellent relations were established with the local Liberation Front (perhaps the Khmer Front) and with the Ministry of Defence.
Finally, in Ireland, the R.B. men had contacts with the people in charge of “international relations” of the I.R.A. who were interested in the strategy of gaol reform.
According to what was stated in the constitution project of the “external column”, the same had a European base, (France) and an Asian one, (Cambodia).
Even if the disruption of the “Senzani group” and of the “party” faction of the Red Brigades had made the programme and the established contacts fail, the confiscated document appeared important because it affirmed that the Red Brigades members of the “party” wing were affirmed in an anti – soviet position and intended to constitute a “Column” in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge operated, flanked by China.
With the arrest of Vincenzo Guagliardo, Laura Braghetti, Mario Moretti and subsequently, Fulvia Miglietta, the contacts with the French “structures” were interrupted by the R.B., who were not able to contact the members of the clandestine network.
For these reasons, in the course of a meeting of the “executive committee” of the organization, held during the Dozier kidnapping, the problem of the foreign connections was discussed in order to recompose them, to exploit, at an international level, the results of the anti-NATO campaign.
On that occasion, two proposals were made: the first foresaw the publication of the Dozier interrogations or the accomplishment of an interview with foreign journalists, in the review “International Correspondence”; the second hoped for the go-ahead of contacts with the Bulgarian Secret Services.
Such a proposal was received with scepticism by some people, who thought it implied the loss of ‘national’ identity for the Red Brigades.
The sensational revelations of possible Bulgarian involvement in the Dozier kidnapping and the attempted assassination of Pope John-Paul II, contributed, with all probability, to the closure of the communication channels between fugitive R.B. members and foreign groups.
In Paris, however, also other structures were active, which launched, at international levels, subversive initiatives connected with the Italian extreme Left. One structure, for example, was the “International Centre of Popular Culture, at Rue de Nanteuil.
The “Centre had declared objectives, such as the promotion and defence of the popular cultures of all countries, giving to its members, not only logistic support, but communication channels useful for their development.
In reality, from information acquired through connected bodies, it came to light that in the Parisian premises, elements of European terrorist groups would frequently meet together with Palestinians, Italian militants of the Red Brigades, the Front Line, the Communist Combat Units and members of the Workers’ Autonomy.

BUR editions, May, 2004

....the Hyperion Institute, officially, a language school. (…) Savasta had hinted several times at international relations with the R.B., but without ever specifically mentioning Hyperion and its founders. He always maintained a vagueness, speaking of ‘ Parisian comrades’ and of a ‘fugitives’ structure in Paris . (…) ’ an international network of assistance to various Middle East and European guerrilla organizations, among which were the Raf, Olp, Ira and Eta. When, in 1981, they arrested Moretti, the first thing that worried the various branches into which the Red Brigades were broken, after the assassination of Moro, was re-establishing contact with Paris. In fact, the relations with France were maintained always and only by Moretti, the only person who had ever had the correct telephone number (…) he had learned it by heart. So that when he was arrested, the others outside didn’t know how to get in touch with Paris”.

This would legitimately suggest that the “Cultural Centre” was solely a “cover up” in favour of the international terrorist structure, whose function was that of coordinating, at European and Middle Eastern levels, the activity of subversive groups acting in the European and Mediterranean areas.
The reliability of such a conclusion, with particular reference to the involvement of Italian terrorists in this international “structure”, seems confirmed by the circumstance that there were, among the promoters and main animators of this Parisian centre, some prominent people of the Hyperion Institute, whose role in the forefront of terrorist affairs in those years, was confirmed by probative results acquired by Venetian and Roman magistrates, during the course of penal proceedings against R.B. activists.

photo ansa

Armenian, Palestinian, Irish and Italian extremists met in Rue de Nanteuil, the seat of the “International Centre of Popular Culture” from were initiatives to influence French public opinion had their starting point. Among such initiatives were problems concerning the “political asylum” for foreign refugees and the organization of collections of money and petitions.
Another support network for Italian terrorist fugitives, based in Paris, was the “Unitary Collective for the liberation of Political Prisoners”, originated in the French capital on the initiative of some transalpine extra-parliamentary fringes (anarchical, autonomous supporters of ACTION DIRECT).
According to reliable sources, such “Collective” was nothing more than a further emanation of the Hyperion Institute.
As far as other Italian groups are concerned, from information referred to the Magistracy by numerous “reformed terrorists”, it would appear that, since the period 1976 – 1977, some foreign organizations (in particular the KGB and the O.L.P.) had woven a dense network of relations, essentially based on weapons supply, with the “minor” formations of the Italian subversion and terrorism, (the Revolutionary Communist Committee, the Front Line, the Workers Autonomy, etc.)
The principal mediator of such contacts between Palestinian and Italian extremists was a militant known as “Corto Maltese”, who acted as emissary of the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” of George Habbash.
In the July and August of 1978, “Corto Maltese” carried out a first shipment, by sea, of weapons from Lebanon to Italy.
With this shipment, from the Palestinian Camps in Southern Lebanon to the clandestine arsenals of the Italian terrorists, a huge quantity of arms was transferred, among which were three ground-to-ground missiles, some explosives and about fifteen Kalashnikov guns (9) .
In the above mentioned period, “Corto Maltese” was able to move with great freedom, not only in Lebanon, but also in Syria, thanks to the support furnished by the Palestinian Resistance.
In the Summer of 1979, he attempted to transport another shipment of arms by sea, but it failed because the ship was wrecked on the coast of Cyprus.
The examination of the question of the Red Brigades’ international connections makes it evident that the Italian organization was not “manipulated” from the outside, but rather, that it acted on equal terms with the foreign organizations with whom they were in contact.
The liberation of General Dozier and the collapse of the organization caused by “reformed terrorists” destroyed the network of connections, marking the end of the ‘international’ season of the R.B. terrorism.

(1) Mario Moretti, Brigate Ross. Una Storia Italiana ( see box, page 45).
(2) Infact, at the beginning of 1982, arms of soviet manufacture, wrapped in Arab newspapers, were found in a R.B. deposit in Montello (Traviso).
(3) The findings in the pocket of Bruno Seghetti, at the moment of his arrest (May, 1980) could be onnected to this information. A note containing the Rome addresses of the Israeli Ambassador and Military Attache was found. The first hypotheses that the note constituted the proof that there were contacts between the Israeli services and the B.R.were, however, denied in declarations on the episode, by some ‘reformed activists’,together with the fact that the note was written in English a language unknown to Seghetti.
(4) Mario Moretti,Brigate Rosse. Una Storia Italiana (see box page 45).
(5) These machine guns of English manufacture were part of a 1000 piece lot, sold by Great Britain to Tunisia and from here ceded to the O.L.P. One of these Sterling were furnished to the B.R. which was used to assassinate Lance Corporal Santo Lanzafama of the Carabinieri Forces, killed in Sardinia by terrorists of “BARBAGIA ROSSA” in September, 1981.
(6) Obviously, it could also be a question of not wanting to remember, insofar as he would have a card to play at a later date.
(7) For a more thorough analysis of the dynamics developed within the R.B. organization, we refer to the article in this review “The idealogical Courses of the R.B: 1^ and 2^ position, published in No.1 /2005, pages 63-71.
(8) Giovanni Fasanella, Alberto Franceschini, What are the Red Brigades (see boxx on page.48)
(9) One of these was used by the Front Line assault on the School of Management Training, in Turin in December, 1979.