28 March 2012
to be targeted as "terrorists" alongside Al Qaeda (pdf file)
The report says
that "anarchist terrorism" could be a symptom of the
possible "resurrection of left wing terrorism" and
refers to a series of terrorist attacks "in the southern
part of the Union". In fact all the incidents referred to
are in Italy, and the report claims that these examples could
spark the return of EU-wide "left wing and anarchist terrorism".
This is claimed, by some tortuous logic, to be an EU-wide problem as:
"left wing and anarchist websites in northern European countries cover this [Italian] situation in depth, the possibility of the resurrection of the left wing and anarchist terrorist groups is existent, in which the southern terrorist activity might function as an example"
The report is
drawn up by Europol which appears to have rubber-stamped "intelligence"
passed to it by member states seeking support for their internal
agendas, on the basis of on-going judicial proceedings.
Italy has been investigating numerous anarchists accused of "subversive association" following the G8 summit in Genoa while Spain has been criminalising a number of Basque nationalist groups and left-wing activists by claiming that they are "part of ETA". This led to the inclusion of several Basque groups in the EU list of proscribed organisations and now this situation report.
Anarchists in Italy have been blamed for a spate of minor bomb attacks over the last few years, with links to groups in Spain, Portugal and Greece alleged by the Italian Interior Ministry. In particular, investigating magistrates have been linking investigations into actions attributed to anarchists to the struggle against the dispersal, isolation and hard prison regime for political prisoners (FIES) in Spain.
After the G8 summit in Genoa, anarchists were blamed by Italian authorities for violent clashes between police and protestors, and a backlash followed against the anarchist movement which led to nation-wide raids involving detentions, searches and a number of persons being placed under investigation.
The threat assessment report expresses concern over the "first signs of the possible resurrection of left wing terrorism", due to episodes of anarchist terrorism "in the second half of 2001". These are attributed to "International Solidarity" (Solidarieta Internazionale), an umbrella name for an organisation carrying out attacks in southern Europe, with examples listed from Italy. The examples provided are inaccurate in a number of respects and the problem has probably been highlighted beyond its actual significance.
Firstly, the document mistakenly states that the sixty alleged Solidarieta Internazionale members detained in September were "allegedly preparing terrorist attacks against Milan's cathedral and other objectives in the same city". The attacks referred to actually ocurred on 26 October 1999 (a carabinieri station), 28 June 2000 (Sant'Ambrogio church) and 18 December 2000 (the Duomo, Milan's cathedral), and were claimed by the group. Sixty people were detained on 18 September for allegedly being members of Solidarieta Internazionale, believed to be involved in attempted bombings in Milan (none of the bombs exploded) (see Statewatch vol 11 no 5). They have been released and are currently under investigation.
into another device that exploded in July 2001 outside the Palazzo
di giustizia in Venice after the G8 summit, also included under
the heading "anarchist terrorism", are still ongoing.
Although anarchists or left-wingers were originally blamed, investigating
magistrate Felice Casson ordered the arrest of a 26-year-old
right-winger, Cristiano Rifani, in January 2001 and a second
suspect is also a right- winger. A number of the cases included
in the report are still unresolved, including an explosion in
Rome on 11 May 2000 that targeted the Institute for International
Affairs and the Council for US-Italian relations. It was claimed
by the Nuclei di Iniziativa Proletaria in a 36-page e-mail document.
Raul Terilli, Fabrizio Sante Antonini and Roberta Ripaldi, three
activists, are under arrest in connection with this and other
minor bombing incidents. In a letter from prison to anarchist
magazine Croce Nera Anarchica, Fabrizio Sante Antonini claimed
on the night between July 15 and 16 2001"
numerous searches were carried out in which "nothing was
found". He adds that "after over two years of interceptions,
the normal personal relationships of a person
written into police records adquire suspicious and perverse traits,
the source for who knows what criminal conspiracy". He called
on all activists and organisation to become active to "deconstruct
this sandcastle based on falsehood and lies, with the aim of
shutting up any voice expressing dissent or struggle".
A device that exploded outside the Northern League's headquarters in Vigonza (Padua) on 24 August 2001 is also included in the list of anarchist terrorist attacks although investigators said in August that it was just as likely that it was planted by ordinary organised crime.
There is an extensive
history in Italy of anarchists or "left-wingers" appearing
as suspects in the early stages of investigations, being arrested
and later being shown to be innocent. In 2000 and 2001 two trials
concerning explosions during the so-called "years of lead"
originally blamed on anarchists resulted in convictions for right-wingers
acting with state collusion (see Statewatch bulletin vol 10 no
2 & vol 11 no 3/4). Three members of Ordine Nuovo, a neo-fascist
group with alleged links to Italian and US secret services, received
life sentences on 30 June 2001 for planting a bomb in Milan's
Banca dell'agricoltura in 1969, killing sixteen people. Two anarchists,
Giuseppe Pinelli and Pietro Valpreda, were the original suspects.
Pinelli died after falling out of a window when he was being
questioned in custody, and Valpreda spent three years in prison.
Gianfranco Bertoli was found guilty on 11 March 2000 for a 1973
bombing outside Milan's police station in which four people were
killed - despite his claims that he was an anarchist, he was
found to have been employed by the Italian secret service, SIFAR,
and to have links with far-right groups, particularly Ordine
Massimo Cacciari, the former centre-left mayor of Venice, has criticised attempts by centre-right politicians to assume that bombings are left-wing before investigations are carried out. Alluding to the "years of lead", he claimed that "only in Italy, we pretend that the world hasn't changed", adding that "in the seventies, there was the actual threat of a civil war, there were coups d 'etat . .. there was a risk for democracy", which is no longer the case.
an informer for the Italian military secret service (SISMI) received
an eight-month prison sentence on 14 February 2001 for possession
of explosives and was acquitted on the more serious charges of
organising and carrying out two bombings in Milan. Based on a
statement given to the police by Giuseppe Fregosi, an associate
who was arrested for arms trafficking, Giannasi was arrested
in connection with a bomb that exploded on 22 September 1998
in front of a Guardia di Finanza office and an unexploded device
planted in the Bocconi University on 21 April 1999. Fregosi claimed
that he provided Giannasi with explosive that the latter said
would be used for making explosive devices. This evidence was
not allowed in court because Fregosi refused to repeat his allegations
in the trial. Giannasi allegedly told SISMI that attacks by anarchists
were imminent between June and September 1998 and blamed the
attack on the Guardia di Finanza office on Milan anarchists.
A leaflet from a quite unknown group, the Nuclei di Guerriglia
Antirazzista (Anti-Racist Guerrilla Units) was conveniently found
with the device in a university classroom.
The inclusion of "anarchist terrorism", solely on the basis of evidence from Italy, begs the question about the proven role of right-wingers who have caused explosions in Italy. In one case a known right-winger was caught red-handed when he injured himself in an attempt to bomb the Rome headquarters of communist daily newspaper II manifesto on 22 December 2000. Andrea Insabato, a right-winger with links to Forza Nuova leader Roberto Fiore, was arrested after the attack against Il manifesto and received a 12-year prison sentence in February 2001. In recent years a museum on the Resistance movement (against nazism and fascism) and a cinema where a film on nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was being screened were also attacked with explosive devices.
The Spanish authorities
have been conducting an ongoing campaign to criminalise Basque
political organisations advocating autonomy, including youth
organisations and prisoner support groups, by claiming that they
are part of ETA. The inclusion of such groups - which were controversially
outlawed in Spain in 2001 - listed in the document as "an
ETA support organisation" (Ekin), organisations "closely
affiliated with ETA" (Ekin, Haika and prison support group
Gestoras pro-amnistia) and "bureau for international relations
for ETA" (Xaki) supports this approach. These groups were
also included in the EU list of terrorist organisations attached
to the "Common position on the application of specific measures
to combat terrorism" on the basis of information indicating
that a decision by a competent authority regarding these groups
in relation to terrorist offences has been taken "irrespective
of whether it concerns the instigation of investigations or prosecution".
Thus, the principle of "innocent until proven guilty"
is dispensed with, and the fact that numerous arrests in connection
with terrorist activities have been overturned on appeal is ignored.
Catalan left wing groups have also alleged that arrests have
taken place to link grassroots movements to ETA, including a
raid in the Netherlands (see Statewatch news online, February)
organised by European prosecutions unit pro-Eurojust to arrest
Juan Ramirez Rodriguez, a singer in a Catalan political rock
In 2000 the Spanish government hardened its anti-terrorist legislation by extending the definition of apologia de terrorismo (defending terrorism) from incitement to commit offences to applauding a crime or praising its author. This was part of a raft of measures that also included treating minors as adults if they are involved in terrorist activity, and the conversion of kale borroka (street struggle/violence) into a terrorist offence. These measures were aimed at the wider Basque nationalist movement, at a time when any criticism of the government's anti-terrorist policy, or any claim for increased Basque sovereignty (even if it is conducted through the democratic system), is interpreted by the government as connivance with ETA - this happens regularly to the mainstream PNV (Basque Nationalist Party).
The Spanish government also wanted to have political party, Batasuna, listed as a terrorist organisation on the EU list - this failed when other EU member states pointed out that it would be a contradiction, as Batasuna is a political party with representatives in Spanish institutions. The ruling PP (Partido Popular) and opposition PSOE (Socialist Workers Party) are planning to resolve this issue, in the framework of an "Anti-terrorist pact" between the two parties, by making parties that "shelter or justify terrorism, xenophobia and racism" illegal, according to justice minister Angel Acebes. The criminalisation of Batasuna would make it difficult for a peace process such as those developing in Corsica and Northern Ireland, whose progress is welcomed in the document, to occur.
With the conversion of public order offences/violence into terrorist crimes if they have a political scope, any violent act motivated by claims for Basque independence may see its perpetrator linked to ETA, regardless of whether a link exists. The crucial issue is the support for a "terrorist goal". If a group opposes Spanish anti-terrorist policy (on human rights or other grounds), they be viewed as entities abusing their legal status to support "terrorists". If this criterion were adopted at a European level, the identification of a left-wing terrorist threat could lead to the description as "terrorist" (by association) of all activists in the EU.
As to the inclusion
of "eco-terrorism", no incidents are mentioned other
than a "limited campaign" which has caused "extensive"
material damage. The case for placing "eco-terrorism"
in a terrorist threat assessment document alongside Al Qaida
appears highly questionable, and the absence of detail may be
linked to possible support by EU citizens for actions carried
out by some environmentalists which it would be convenient to
construe as terrorism.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:
"The exclusion of right-wing bombing attacks in Italy - let alone violent and murderous attacks on migrants in several EU countries by racists - suggests that the inclusion of "anarchist terrorism" and "eco-terrorism" in this EU Situation report is aimed at criminalising the radical left and expanding the concept of terrorism"
Situation in the terrorist activity in the
European Union: Situation report and trends - September 2000
to September 2001, full-text: 5759/02
(pdf) 5759/1/02 REV 1 (pdf)
Sources: Corriere della Sera 21-22.4.99, 26.4.00, 28.4.00, 18.6.00, 27.12.00, 1.8.01, 29.8.01, 20.9.01, 22.11.01, 15.2.02; Crocenera Anarchica no3, Dec.2001; El Mundo 16.1.02; El Pais 17.11.00, 19-20.2.01, 22.12.01, 27-28.12.01, 21.1.02; Euskalinfo 3.5.01, 15.6.01; Il Manifesto 28.8.01, 7-8.2.02; Il Messaggero 13.6.01; Indymedia 16.1.02; Repubblica 14.12.99, 16.11.00, 11.4.01, 17.7.01, 24.8.01, 26-28.8.01, 19.9.01; Repubblica online 28.8.01, 14.2.02; Spanish Interior Ministry press statements 5.4.01, 3.8.01, 14.9.01, 28.12.01, 4.2.02, 6.2.02; Stampa 26.8.01; Televideo 29.1.00.
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