Saturday, February 17, 2007

Der Spiegel: The Red Brigades saga continues

I recently noted that the German Red Army Faction is back in the news with the parole of Brigitte Mohnhaupt. Now it seems that in Italy, the Red Brigades saga is continuing:
The city of Vicenza in northern Italy is bracing itself for a potentially explosive weekend: Schools will be sealed off, shops will be shut and restaurants will roll down their shutters. The town just south of the Alps is expecting unpredictable guests: 100,000 demonstrators, 5,000 security forces -- and an unknown number of left-wing extremists.

Left-wing terrorism has recently had a revival in Italy. This week, police arrested 19 people linked to a radical offspring of the notorious "Red Brigades" group which terrorized the country in the 1970s and 1980s. A high-profile raid in Milan, Turin and Padua on Monday led to the arrest of 15 suspects, on Thursday four more people were rounded up for posting propaganda posters.

The seizures highlight the continuing existence of left-wing terror cells and their readiness for violence. According to the Italian government, the group -- which calls itself the "Second Position" -- was planning a series of attacks on two company managers, a trade union leader and a right-wing newspaper on Easter. Further potential targets included the home of former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi.

"We decided to intervene because some plans were about to be put into practice," Milan prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told reporters on Thursday. Police also found large amounts of weapons as well as fake documents and disguises in Turin and Padua.

The suspected ideological leader of the "The New Red Brigades" is 50-year old former fugitive Alfredo Davanzo. He is refusing to cooperate with police in the investigation and considers himself a political prisoner. But officials suspect the group was planning activities aimed at financing itself. According to Boccassini, the militants were divided between two courses of action: kidnapping people for ransom or kneecapping victims to force them to hand over their money.

The Red Brigades carried out a number of attacks in the 1970s and 80s including the 1978 abduction and murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. More recently, its modern reincarnation killed two government advisors in 1999 and 2002.

The events come as a wake-up call to the country. "The one (group) we broke up, we know, isn't the last," said interior minister Guiliano Amato. The newspaper La Republica added that Italy was unique among European countries in having a second generation of left-wing terrorists. "The Red Brigades have returned and they're ready to attack," it said. [...]

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