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Letter Bombs Attributed to Anarchists Raise Questions

infos | 06.01.2004 10:37 | Globalisation | Repression | Social Struggles | London

(en) Italy, Letter Bombs Attributed to Anarchists Raise Questions
Date Mon, 5 Jan 2004 23:42:18 +0100 (CET)
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists

Four letter bombs have been sent to various European Union
dignitaries throughout the Europe in the last week, all of them,
according to government officials, originating from the Italian city
of Bologna. A group calling itself the Informal Anarchist Front
("F.A.I.") has claimed responsibility in a letter printed by an
Italian newspaper. Although no known Italian anarchist groups have
ever heard of this association, the acronym matches exactly that of
another above-ground, revolutionary organization in Bologna: the
Italian Anarchist Federation (F.A.I.) The F.A.I. has denounced these
attacks, and consider the Informal Anarchist Front "imaginary,"
invented to justify the repression of anarchists in Bologna and
throughout Italy.

This suspicion harkens back to similar incidents in the recent past, such as 1997
in Milan when a series of
letterbombs were used as a justification to raid squats, social centers,
and make sweeping arrests. Anti-globalization activists may also recall
the letter bomb scare in the days leading up to the 2001 G8 summit in
Genoa, Italy. In fact, the use of such a tactic by fascist forces in
Italy has been historically documented. During the 1970's, when
electoral support for communists was at an all time high, Fascists
engaged in a deadly bombing campagin they described as part of a "strategy of tension." By blaming
the bombings on the communists, the Fascists hoped to incite a breakdown
of public order to justify the imposition of military rule. The most
horrific bombing took place in Bologna in 1980, in which a bomb was
detonated at a rail station killing 85 people and injuring over 200.
Bologna was a communist stronghold at the time. The Italian Secret
Service was later implicated in the bombing and high ranking officials
in the organization were made to stand trial ten years later. Their
convictions were overturned.

One twist in the latest incidences is that the bomb addressed to
European Commissioner Romano Prodi in Bologna was wrapped in a book,11363,1113359,00.html by
Gabrielle D'Annunzio, a supporter of Fascism in the 1930's. Prodi
remarked that the choice of the author was probably meant to be ironic.
Whether ironic or not, these incidents have created considerable tension
among Italian anarchists in general, and members of the Italian
Anarchist Federation in particular. As one reader on Infoshop
commented, "Imagine if the 'casual repubican party' started claiming
responsibility for bombings, how much heat would the Republicans get?"

The possibility remains, however, that such bombings have been carried
out by self-proclaimed "anarchists" that are disconnected from groups
such as the FAI, who struggle to promote autonomy, social and economic
justice in Italy. It seems questionable whether anarchists working in
communities of struggle would knowingly place their comrades in danger
for such imperceptible gains. The letter bombs in question have been
poorly made, causing no injuries even when detonating in the hands of
their recipients. The history of Fascism in Italy has demonstrated
that the "strategy of tension" is served equally well by the brash
actions of "useful idiots," whether their ideology is purported to come
from the extreme Left or the extreme Right.

The Commission for the Correspondence with the Italian Anarchist
Federation has issued a communique in which
they suggest that, far from promoting revolutionary consciousness,
"letterbombs are more useful for provokation and the criminalization of
dissent." The arsenal of the F.A.I., on the other hand, includes the
weapons of social organizing, local autonomy, trade unions, opposition
to state terrorism and the creation of a new and free society.

There are reports that raids of squats have already begun taking place
in Bologna, though no arrests have yet been made.

IMC Bologna

Federazione Anarchia Italiana (F.A.I.)


The Italian communique:

Comunicati diffusi dalla Commissione di Corrispondenza della Federazione
Anarchica Italiana


La Commissione di Corrispondenza della Federazione Anarchica Italiana,
in riferimento alla comparsa di una fantomatica "FAI (Federazione
Anarchica Informale)" che avrebbe rivendicato le esplosioni di via
Gerusalemme a Bologna:

- denuncia la natura grave e infamante dell'attribuire questo tipo di
fatto ad una sigla che allude comunque a quella della FAI - Federazione
Anarchica Italiana: chi addita un gruppo di compagni/e alla repressione
è un poliziotto o un suo collaboratore;

- rivendica il portato storico dell'organizzazione anarchica come si è
configurata dal Congresso di S. Imier del 1872 fino ai deliberati
costitutivi della UAI del 1920 e della FAI del 1945: ORGANIZZAZIONE CHE
NON E' AFFATTO INFORMALE, perché fa della chiarezza e della collegialità
dei mandati il suo atto di garanzia di un metodo libertario ed
egualitario di prendere le decisioni;

- ribadisce la propria condanna di bombe, pacchi bomba e ordigni, che
possono colpire indiscriminatamente, e comunque paiono più che altro
funzionali alle logiche della provocazione e della criminalizzazione
mediatica del dissenso, in una fase in cui gli anarchici sono fra i
protagonisti delle lotte sociali, dagli scioperi alle iniziative contro
la guerra;

- ribadisce che gli strumenti di lotta delle anarchiche e degli
anarchici federati sono dispiegati nelle piazze, nel sociale, nel
sindacalismo autogestionario e di base, nei movimenti, nelle decine di
città in cui gestiamo circoli pubblici, nella aperta opposizione alle
logiche del dominio e dei terrorismi di Stato, per la costruzione di una
società di liberi ed eguali.

Reggio Emilia, 28/12/2003




The Coordinating Committee of the Italian Anarchist Federation (FAI),
referring to the phantom-like appearance of a "FAI (Informal Anarchist
Federation)" claiming to be the authors of the explosions in Bologna:
- denounces the serious and infamous nature of attributing this
kind of facts to initials alluding to the monogram of FAI - Italian
Anarchist Federation: - whoever points out a group of comrades
to repression is a police or one that cooperates with them;
- recalls the historical issue of the anarchist organization as it
took features in St. Imierís Congress in 1872 down to the
founding acts of the Congresses of UAI (Italian Anarchist
Union) in 1920 and FAI (Italian Anarchist Federation) in 1945:
transparency and collegiality of the charges relies the guarantee
of a libertarian and egalitarian method of assuming decisions;

- asserts once more its condemnation of bombs, exploding
parcels and such devices, that may strike without
discrimination, and in any way look - at best - to be functional to
logic of provocation and criminalization of dissent through the
media, in a moment in which anarchists are among the
protagonists of social conflicts - from strikes, to initiatives
against war, etc.;

- once more asserts that the instruments of federated
anarchists are employed in open street confrontation, in social
struggle, in grass roots and self organized syndicalism, in all
movements, in the dozens of localities in which we run clubs
open to the public - always in outspoken opposition to the logics
of dominion and Stateís terrorism, for the construction of a
society of free and equals.

Reggio Emilia, Dec. 28, 2003

The coordinating committee of the Italian Anarchist Federation

Altri comunicati della CdC



Hide the following 3 comments


06.01.2004 11:19


Recent events in Italy have led certain people to ask if we are witnessing the implementation a new ‘strategy of tension’ by Italy’s bourgeoisie. Unfortunately, many seem either completely unaware of the history of state manipulation of terrorism in Italy, or only vaguely so. The obfuscators in the bourgeois media of course encourage this unfortunate ignorance, for by rewriting recent history they hope nobody will be able to put more recent events into historical context in order to understand the present spectacle of terrorism.

From the late 1960’s through to the early 1980’s, Italy witnessed waves of social upheaval and class conflict. Alongside these conflicts, Italy also witnessed the phenomenon of ‘terrorism’, ostensibly carried out by extra-parliamentary groups of the far left and far right. However, the spectacle of Italian terrorism concealed powerful interests, both domestic and international.

In addition to the more ‘mundane’ terror that Italy’s various neo-fascist groups dished out on the streets to their enemies, far right organisations were involved in the most spectacular and devastating episodes that frame the ‘years of lead’ (as the period in question came to be known): the bombing of a bank in Milan’s Piazza Fontana in 1969, and the blowing up of Bologna railway station in 1980. However, the neo-fascist groups that were ostensibly behind these attacks were well integrated into the state apparatus, via the so-called Gladio Networks. Beyond this, the fact that the objectives of far right organisations are broadly identical to those leading the state, and that many of their supporters and activists were drawn from the states apparatus of repression, makes it very easy for them to be infiltrated and manipulated by the state. As always, there have been various attempts to explain state involvement in far right terrorism in terms of ‘infiltration’ of the state by the far right, the actions so-called ‘rouge elements’, etc. Liberals and leftists are particularly keen on this sort of apologetic obfuscation. A more accurate picture of events would been provided by the neo-fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra: “every bombing in Italy after 1969 was linked to one group…The orders are given by an apparatus belonging to the state, specifically by a secret parallel structure of the Interior Ministry.”

The Gladio Network was set up during the 1950’s as part of a wider “stay behind” network established throughout European countries aligned to NATO at the end of WWII, to go into action in the event of an Eastern Bloc invasion or domestic Communist ‘subversion’, using secret arms caches. They were under the overall control of US intelligence, involving domestic intelligence groups and committed ‘anti-communists’. The latter group inevitably contained a large number of neo-fascists. Lucio Gelli, Grandmaster of P2 – the establishment Masonic lodge and at times effective parallel government of Italy – confirmed this, reporting that many Gladio members in Italy were drawn form the ranks of fascist veterans of Mussolini’s last stand, the Salo Republic. The US also pumped huge amounts of money into the coffers of far right organisations, supposedly as a bulwark against the left, especially the large Italian Communist Party (PCI).

The Gladio networks, and the extra-parliamentary far right in general, were utilise by ruling class elements to carry out actions as part of what became known as the “Strategy of Tension”. The general aim of this strategy, developed in the face of working class militancy, was to create a heightened sense of disorientation, fear and atomisation amongst the general population, leading to an increased identification with authority. While some initially hoped that this would lead to a military take over, this strategy became a more general response in periods of social unrest and political crisis. The Pizza Fontana bombing illustrates this perfectly, taking place as it did at the height of the social upheavals of the ‘Hot Autumn’ of 1969. As the Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti observed, writing in the late 1970’s about the spectacle of state manipulated terrorism, the aim of such events as the Piazza Fontana bombing was to “make the whole population…believe that it has at least one enemy in common with this state, and from which the state defends it on condition that it is no longer called into question by anyone.” In other words, the ‘war against terrorism’ – the bourgeoisie has been running this racket for quite some time now! – was meant to inject a sense of common national interest into the population (particularly the working class) at times of social crisis. Immediately after the Piazza Fontana bombing in 1969, Sanguinetti, in a short flyer entitled ‘Is the Reichstag Burning?’ denounced the bombings as state provocations, unlike the vast majority of the left at the time, who generally took police and media lies at face value: ‘THE BOMB IN MILAN EXPLODED AGAINST THE PROLETARIAT, it was intended to wound the least radicalised categories in order to ally them with power, and to tighten the ranks of the bourgeoisie for the witch hunt…’

Partly in response to the grim spectacle of state organised ‘far right’ terrorism, along with more general attacks on the working class by the ruling class and its state apparatus, 1970 witnessed the formation of the Red Brigades (R.B.’s). While the main impetus for their creation largely came from genuine workers and Leftist intellectuals, inspired by the PCI dominated anti-fascist partisans of WWII, the organisation was based on a rigid Leninist ideology and structure, and a militaristic conception of the class struggle. During 1974, the original leadership of the R.B.’s, including Renato Curcio and Alberto Franceshini, were arrested, which paved the way for Mario Moretti and his strategy of constant military escalation. There were suggestions at the time, and subsequently, that Moretti was an agent provocateur. Marco Pisetta and Silvano Girotto also infiltrated the group, along with the ex-Franciscan friar Salvano Girotto (known as “Brother Machine Gun”), amongst many others.

On the 16 March, 1978 Christian Democratic Party leader Aldo Moro was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, in an operation notable for its brutality and military precision. Moro was an advocate of a ‘history compromise’ in Italian politics. This would involve the opening up of the state to the Communist Party (PCI). Moro correctly perceived the completely reformist nature of the PCI. He hoped that this policy would diminish the radicalism of the working class. Powerful factions of the Italian ruling class, as well as American ruling class, were totally opposed to PCI participation in government. Moro became increasingly preoccupied with US opposition to his policy of historic compromise with the PCI. During a 1974 visit to America as Italian foreign minister, Henry Kissinger warned Moro off his policy of compromise with the PCI. After he was kidnapped, the CIA refused to co-operate in the hunt for Moro. On the 9 May, Moro’s body was found in the trunk of a car on Rome’s Via Caetani, symbolically halfway between the headquarters of the Christian Democratic and Communist Parties’. Significantly, during the 1960’s a secret coup plot called “Piano Solo”(Plan Solo) organised by fascist-sympathiser, intelligence chief and carabinieri leader General De Lorenzo called for the assassination of Moro, who had promised an “opening to the left” - i.e., letting the Italian Communist Party (PCI) into government, a precursor of his “Historic Compromise”. The planned coup was called off at the last minute due to a compromise between the Socialist Party and right-wing Christian Democrats. De Lorenzo went on to create a secret organisation named “La Rosa Dei Venti” (Rose of the Winds), aimed at grouping together those sympathetic to De Lorenzo and his plan. This conspiracy was a direct precursor to the strategy of tension and P2.

On 2 August, 1980 a powerful bomb exploded in the second class waiting room at Bologna railway station, resulting in 85 deaths and 200 injuries. Fascists ostensibly carried out the bombing, a series of right-wingers later being convicted and then acquitted for carrying out the attack. However, it soon became clear that more powerful interests lay behind the attack. It is established that the explosives used were from a NATO Gladio arsenal, and subsequent investigations implicate Gelli and P2 as being those behind the massacre. (When interviewed by British television upon his release from prison and asked if he had any part in the bombing, P2 boss Gelli simply smiled and stated that ‘the Communists had to be kept out of the government’!) In January of the following year, Gelli attends Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. He would later spend a whole week with George H.W. Bush, the ex-CIA director (1970’s), vice-president (1981-88), and future president (1989-93) (also the father of the present cretin inhabiting the White House, in case anyone didn’t know). In 1990, Dick Brenneke, who claims to have been a CIA operative, makes a series of allegations concerning American involvement with P2 and the strategy of tension. Amongst these was that George Bush not only had knowledge of CIA involvement with P2 and the strategy of tension, but that the one time director of the CIA was one of the masterminds of these events.

In December 1981 the US General James Lee Dozier is kidnapped by the Red Brigades, sparking the largest manhunt in Italian history. The Mafia aids the manhunt, which is far larger than that for Moro. The successful location and release of Dozier by the authorities spells the ‘beginning of the end’ for the Red Brigades. However, during the late 1990’s, the organisation re-emerged with the assassination of Massimo D’Antona, a government advisor on labour law. In a 28-page document, the killing is claimed by the R.B.’s (full name now ‘Red Brigades for the construction of the fighting Communist Party’!). D’Antona’s widow – amongst others – voices doubts about the motives of her late husbands supposed killers, suggesting that he may have been killed at the behest of “conservative forces”. The supposed re-formation of the R.B.’s takes place in the wake of the upsurge of the Italian Right, and the emergence of the billionaire media magnet and football club owner Silvio Berlusconi and his ‘party’ Forza Italia (a football slogan) as a political force in Italy – Berlusconi is a onetime member of the P2. During the early 1990’s, at the time of the entry of Berlusconi's Forza Italia into Italian political life, a series of bizarre bombings take place. These include attacks on an art gallery in Milan, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Rome cathedral of St John's in Lateran, which are rather implausibly blamed on the Mafia. In 1999 it would be claimed that Berlusconi was in fact behind the bombings, which occurred shortly before his election as Prime Minister at head of the so-called Freedom Alliance (which included Forza Italia, the regionalist-xenophobic Northern Leagues and the ‘post-Fascist’ National Alliance).

In the lead up to the anti-G8 mobilisation in Genoa during July 2001, a parcel bomb that is sent to a police station explodes, injuring a cop. No one claims responsibility for the bomb, but the media speculate that the bomb is the work of “militants on the fringe of the…protesters” (Guardian), failing to mention the historical context of the Italian states’ manipulation of, and heavy involvement in terrorism in the recent passed. During the massive anti-G8 demonstrations of July 2001, police subject demonstrators to systematic brutality, attacking the demonstrations organisational headquarters and the Independent Media Centre. Hundreds are arrested, many being subjected to intimidation and torture. One protester, Carlo Giuliani, is shot dead by the carabinieri. Following the Genoa repression, a Venice court is bombed hours before Silvio Berlusconi is due to visit the city. Twenty groups claim responsibility for the bombing! ‘Anti-terrorist’ police search the homes of two neo-Nazi sympathisers. In addition, a bomb explodes at the headquarters of the right-wing Northern League in the Italian town of Vigonza, near Venice. No group claims responsibility. Early this year, the Berlusconi government launched a series of raids against the network of social centres, which are connected to the ‘White Overall’ movement. In March 2002, Marco Biagi, an advisor to the Berlusconi government on labour law reform, is assassinated. The police suggest that the same gun was used to kill Massimo D’Antona three years previously! The killing, which takes place on the eve of a massive anti-government mobilisation against labour ‘reform’, is claimed by the Red Brigades over the Internet. The statement also praises the attack on the World Trade Centre in the USA on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds. The planned anti-government mobilisation goes ahead, but the media portrays the massive demonstration as an anti-terrorist mobilisation (much of the Left and the Trade Unions play along with this, to some extent).

State involvement in the very terrorism our rulers so loudly declared war against has become an increasingly apparent phenomenon across the world. The example of the so-called Nijvel gang in Belgium could be cited here. This gang carried out a series of bizarre and brutal armed robberies on supermarkets in the province of Brabant between 1982 and 1985, which led to the deaths of 28 people with very small amounts of money being stolen. When it was revealed that the weapons used to carry out these murders, which have become known as the Brabant massacres, came from police arsenals the gang became linked to the far-right organisation Westland-New Post who in turn linked to the Belgian police and security apparatus. It has since come to light that the Nijvel gang were operating as part of a "strategy of tension" similar to that carried out in Italy during the early seventies, connected to NATO’s “stay behind” networks.


• ‘Operation Gladio’ – a very short summary of Italian aspects of Gladio

• ‘Operation Gladio’ - Not particularly good short summary of Italian aspects of Gladio

• Namebase anti-spook database on Gladio -

• Statewatch Italian ‘Strategy of Tension’/Gladio press-cuttings archive

• Philip Willan’s Guardian articles (see book and note below concerning this useful idiot):

‘Three jailed for 1969 Milan bomb’,4273,4213990,00.html
‘Paolo Emilio Taviani’ ‘…was among the founders of the Gladio stay-behind network…’,4273,4207688,00.html
‘Terrorists 'helped by CIA' to stop rise of left in Italy’,4273,4158945,00.html
‘US supported anti-left terror in Italy',4273,4033098,00.html
‘Bomb trial may call Bush Sr’,4273,3963717,00.html
‘Andreotti cleared for second time’,4273,3917546,00.html
‘Andreotti's acquittal puts Italy's supergrass system in the dock’,4273,3906104,00.html
‘Andreotti walks free as court clears him of murder plot’,4273,3905627,00.html
‘Professor wins retrial for killing of police chief’,4273,3895325,00.html
‘Infiltrators blamed for murder of Italian PM’ – ‘Spies working for the Italian secret services who infiltrated the Red Brigades were the masterminds behind the kidnapping and murder of the former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978, according to one of the group's founders.’,4273,3852325,00.html

• A Situationist view:

Is the Reichstag Burning? - Sanguineti’s immediate response to the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing - ‘THE BOMB IN MILAN EXPLODED AGAINST THE PROLETARIAT, it was intended to wound the least radicalized categories in order to ally them with power, and to tighten the ranks of the bourgeoisie for the witch hunt…’

Prefaces to Gianfranco Sanguinetti’s On Terrorism and the State (unfortunately, full text not available on-line. Available in English translation from: B.M.Chronos, London, WC1V 6XX.):
-1979 Italian Edition -
-1980 French Edition -

Sanguinetti archive -

• Autonomist intellectual Tony Negri’s reflections on the period (‘Reviewing the Experience of Italy in the 1970’s’) …and a critique

• ‘Fascism and the Establishment: Italy – the Strategy of Tension’

• Extract from Chomsky

• The following material that is in varying degrees useful, but unfortunately not available on line (nearly all out of print):

Anon. The Italian State Massacre (London: Libertaria Books, 1972)

Bale, Jeffrey M., ‘Right-wing Terrorists and the Extra-parliamentary Left in Post-World War 2 Europe: Collusion or Manipulation’ in Lobster (18) 1989.

Christie, Stuart, Stefano Delle Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist (London: Refracts/Anarchy, 1984)

Ginzburg, Carlo, The Judge and the Historian: Marginal Notes on a Late-Twentieth-Century Miscarriage of Justice (London, 2000). On this case, see

Sanguinetti, Gianfranco, On Terrorism and the State (London, 1982)

Willan, Philip, Puppet Masters: the Political Use of Terrorism in Italy, (Constable, London, 1991) - This book should be handled with care, due to the author’s pedalling of outrageous Italian Communist Party inspired disinformation directed against the Autonomist Marxist intellectual Tony Negri. See review by Larry O'Hara, ‘Blinded by the Light’, in issue 23 of the British para-political magazine Lobster


well yes that's of course true...

06.01.2004 15:14

re angry brigade:

Some people do stoop to these tactics. Well documented of course. And I don't think anyone's saying that these things never happen.

But the whole italian strategy of tension thing was part of a very wide game plan...

It's like the much lower level of dirty tricks played out on the streets at large demonstrations... Think of the much documented recent cases where the police have been caught out using their dirty tricks - from the barcelona world bank demo a couple of years ago (even reported by reuters) when cops dressed as 'block block' and masked up were seen jumping out of police vehicles before mingling with the main crowd and starting a big fight which was used as justifictaion to fire gas at people and batton charge the main crowd - to examples like that seen in Prague back in 2000 at the IMF protests when undercover police were seen smashing the windows of the macdonalds in wencelass (sp?)square.

Here I'm not saying that 'normal' protestors don't smash things up or throw rocks or start fights, but I am saying that the police do it as well, sometimes dressed up to look like protestors.

So the same can be applied here. Also see similarities in the cases where state agents have infiltrated groups and pushed them to more violent acts - well documented.

So while it's not saying, ooooh, people not under control of the state would never do this, it is pointing out how similar this could look to previous cases of state manipulation.

All possibilities must be considered.

The fact that the letters of the name of the (previously unheard of) group claiming responsibility are the same as the Italian Anarchist Federation (F.A.I.) is pretty bloody dodgy if you ask me!

As is the target - EU - given that the EU constitution has been chosen for the focus of europe wide day of action in May 2004 - this came out of the Paris European Social Forum via the same mechanisms that saw the mass F15 2003 anti war demonstrations (nb there is also a similar europe wide and global day of anti-war action on march 20th i think) - the point here is that this is the first departure from co-ordinated european action coming out of the ESF structure which isn't specifically anti-war.

Finally what would be the purpose behind such state sponsored manipulation?

a) discredit x movement or group
b) pave the way for justifying a crackdown on x movement or group
c) through such crack downs and the general info climate push x movement or group into more severe retaliation - now return to a) and repeat until x movement or group is destabilised, marginalised and destroyed.

ps and what do we have now? a new eu task force to tackle "anarchist insurrection":

ps anyway the angry brigade ain't part of my movement, indeed half the people I see on demos ain't part of my movement either! doesn't stop the media and state portreying us as one and the same "x" movement!



06.01.2004 18:59

The text from the initial post:

"A group calling itself the Informal Anarchist Front ("F.A.I.") has claimed responsibility in a letter printed by an Italian newspaper"


The previously unknown group Informal Anarchic Federation, claimed responsibility for rubbish bin attacks in a letter to an Italian newspaper and promised more at the end of last year (2003). Some corporate press have mentioned this, but on the whole it's now changed from "being linked" to the december letter bombs to "being behind" them and the latest ones. Most of the world's media however simply refers to "Italian Anarchists".

It's at these times that media monitoring is important.


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