Consequences of the terrorist attack at the railway station in Bologna, 1980 year. Photo: AP
After World War II, the United States and Britain created a secret anti-communist organization of the former Nazis, revealed only in 1990.
31 May 1972 of the year on the remote night police station in Gorizia, in northern Italy, received an anonymous call: "White Fiat is on the road to Savonia, it has traces of shots in the windshield." The Carabinieri outfit went into place, they found the car, started the inspection, opened the hood, and then there was an explosion of incredible power, which scattered the police and the car to pieces.
24 January 1975, in the very center of Madrid, people, armed with the American MAC-10 machine guns, burst into the office of the largest trade union of Spain - SSOO affiliated to the Spanish Communist Party. They built personnel against the wall - accountants and lawyers (seven men and a pregnant woman) - and shot them.
October 7 1983 of the year in the provincial supermarket of the Belgian town of Beersel entered three men in masks and opened heavy fire on visitors and vendors. The senior manager was ripped off by a bullet in his jaw, everyone fell to the floor; Witnesses later recalled that one of the attackers was also armed with a Scandinavian ax. About a million francs were stolen; this is one of a dozen identical robberies in two years: a small amount, the maximum number of victims.
How did the Italian ultra-right set the "New Order"
The first of these episodes, called “Ambush in Peteano” in the press, occurred at the next turbulent moment of the Italian political stories - if at all appropriate to talk about the chaotic moments when it comes to the First Republic, the whole story of which was an endless crisis. The Red Brigades were immediately blamed for the attack. Several hundred people were arrested, quite a few people were questioned, but the long-term lawsuit did not lead to positive results, and the case remained very dark.
Eleven years later, the murder of police officers fell into the hands of a young Venetian judge Felice Casson, who looked at the available materials and was horrified: it seemed that the investigation had deliberately confused the story. Witnesses were interrogated sporadically, important materials and evidence disappeared without a trace, no logical line could be traced, and the local administration of the Carabineros, whose employees were killed, simply called for an investigation. All this made Casson suspect that something was wrong, however, the analysis of explosives was decisive.
In 1973, a police expert concluded that explosives were used in Peteano, similar to other episodes when Red Brigades were involved in the attacks. But Felice Casson knew that the “brigades” usually prepared their own explosives themselves, using legal economic means, and its power was always small — obviously less than it was necessary to tear the car to shreds.
The judge requested a re-examination - and its results were astounding. On a village road near the border with Slovenia in 1972, there was a car loaded with C-4, a professional explosive used by the military.
The difference between the artisanal acetone-gasoline bomb and the plastid can not be overlooked, and Casson began to investigate the circumstances of the expertise of a decade ago. It turned out that a police expert appointed to make this deliberately false conclusion was an active member of the neo-fascist organization New Order (Ordine Nuovo), whose connection with terrorism has been widely known for a long time. At the same time, in 1972, the police had reason to suspect a far-right terrorist act, but as a result, a pyrotechnic examination convinced everyone of the guilt of the left. Felice Casson decided to act on the contrary.
It took a lot of effort in order to obtain the necessary funding for costly voice expertise in Switzerland. The voice that had notified the police officer many years ago about a car with bullet holes in the glass had to be compared with the voice samples of well-known ultra-right terrorists. The examination showed unequivocally that at the other end of the line that night was Carlo Tsikuttini, one of the militants of the New Order.
Felice Casson. Photo: Francesco Dalla Pozza / AP, archive
By that time, this man had been wanted for a long time for attempting to hijack an airplane: in October of the same 1972, he and several accomplices hijacked the plane at a small airfield in Ronchi, demanding the release of another prominent right-wing militant - Franco Fred - plus 200 million lire in cash (about $ 200 thousand). Police stormed the plane: one of the invaders, a former paratrooper, was killed, two more members of the gang went on the run. Tsikuttini, the organizer of the action, strangely easily crossed two borders and found himself in Barcelona, under the protection of the Franco regime. There he married and received a Spanish passport, becoming virtually inaccessible for extradition. It became legally unattainable in 1977, when a new, democratic government of Spain announced an amnesty for political extremism under the articles, and the Italians were officially denied extradition of Tsikuttini.
However, the second of those who escaped - Vincenzo Vincegerra - could not stand the boredom of emigration, for which he paid. He also found himself easily in Spain, but after many years he returned to Rome, being sure that the old affairs were completely forgotten. In 1979, he was arrested in a plane hijacking case, and in 1984, Judge Kasson got to him.
There was no chance: the prosecutor was able to prove that the Winchegurra gang was involved in an ambush against police officers, and now the question was raised about who would bear the main responsibility for this heinous crime.
The former terrorist went on the offensive: what he was telling journalists and judges would have been like madness if it had not been for 1980's in Italy.
The period from the end of 1960 to the very collapse of the First Republic in the history of the country received the name “Years of Lead”: this is the era of endless terror into which rival ultra-left and right-wing groups plunged the life of the country. “Red Brigades”, “Struggle Continues”, “First Line” - on the left side and “New Order”, “National Avant-garde”, “Armed Revolutionary Cells” - on the right side, in total, there are so many terrorist acts that all this can be compared with a small civil war. And even without taking into account the terrorist acts committed by various factions of the mafia, which were also often of a political nature.
Explosions, murders, abductions occurred almost monthly. Moreover, if the left-wing groups, consisting mainly of former students, specialized in pinpoint attacks against certain government officials or other opponents, the ultra-right already adhered to the logic formulated many years later by the American William Pierce in the best-selling "Turner Diaries": the wider the chaos and social destruction, the greater the chances of the fascists to win. Bombs were installed in squares, train stations, waiting rooms, public reception rooms. The mass and senselessness of the massacre plunged the Italians into shock for many years.
Now, in the 1984 year, Winchegur refused to be held responsible for the crimes he committed, because he did all this under the guidance of state services - the police and counterintelligence. For many years, his group, like many others, underwent training under the guidance of the military, received full funding from them, and enjoyed state information and legal support. As part of this support, Winchegerra and his associate Tsikuttini were hastily evacuated from Italy under diplomatic cover when the plan to hijack an airplane in Ronchi failed.
Thus, Winchegurra became the first “pentiti” in the case of an unconstitutional conspiracy: this word was used in Italy for key witnesses in megacades against the mafia. These were the Mafiosi who were defeated in the war of the factions, often lost relatives and friends, who were desperate to violate the basic rule of the criminal code - the law of silence, "Omertu". Only the testimony of these people could break the vicious circle of universal coverage - and Winchergher played just such a role in exposing the Gladio project.
Vincenzo Winchegerra. Frame: film "Operation Gladio" / BBC, 1992 year
For many years, Judge Casson tried to get comments from law enforcement agencies about the exposure of Winchegerra, but to no avail: all officials refused to speak or publicly denied the testimony of the perpetrator. The political split in the country, meanwhile, continued to deepen, and by 1990, Casson was finally able to find influential patrons in the Senate — among the opponents of acting Prime Minister Julio Andreotti — to help investigate his case. A parliamentary commission was formed to "investigate terrorist acts," and with her support Casson demanded that the authorities allow access to state archives of counterintelligence. In July, 1990, the prime minister was forced to sign this resolution under pressure from the senators. It was pointless to keep silent about anything: ahead of events, October 24 of 1990, Giulio Andreotti publicly told Parliament and the world about Gladio.
Fear and Loathing for the USSR
24 June 1941, an influential senator and member of the ruling US Democratic Party, Harry Truman, commented on the war between the USSR and Germany that began two days before this in an interview with The New York Times: “If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, but if Russia is Germany. This way we will give them the opportunity to kill as many people as possible. At the same time, it should be noted that I would not like to see Hitler as a winner under any circumstances. ”
This famous quote characterizes the attitude of the American elites towards the events that took place between 1941 and 1945 in Europe: there is no secret to this. One can only guess how many times the White House regretted that Hitler did not win.
The vanguard of anti-communism was formed from the Nazis.
The war is not over yet, and throughout the western territory of the occupation, negotiations between the American and British military with the surviving structures of the far right have already begun. Many Italian fascists later recalled how they were released just a day after being captured, if they signed a paper on joining the "anti-communist squad." Military intelligence emissaries were sent to negotiations in the Republic of Salo, the last stronghold of supporters of Mussolini. The fact that these negotiations were crowned with success is confirmed by the number of former functionaries of the “Social Republic” in the leadership of the law enforcement structures of democratic Italy.
The general principle in each of the countries was similar: the ultra-right volunteers were organized into teams, the police or military supplied them weapons, a curator was appointed from among the authorized representatives of each group. In addition, the future guerrillas were provided with a system of "caches" - boxes of ammunition, radio equipment, medicines and other necessary items.
All groups submitted to a single command within the military intelligence apparatus - in Italy, this system was code-named Gladio, and the participants themselves called each other gladiators:
in each of the countries, the network was called differently, but since the time of the Andriotti 1990 revelations of the year, they were associated in the mass consciousness with the image of a two-edged Roman sword.
The gladiators were initially trained by the officers of the British Special Operations Directorate (SOE, an early equivalent of American intelligence), they were taught sabotage activities, explosives, coding, communications, their duties also included helping wounded pilots and scouts. Former members of the SDRA 8 - the Belgian gladiator network - recall that their training included simulations of sabotage on real, active objects (barracks, trains) and even simulations of forced expropriations in stores. Everything could be useful in the fight against the theoretical enemy: Francesco Cossiga, the eighth President of the Italian Republic, recalled in an interview with the BBC how he stood for twenty years on the seashore in his native Sardinia, armed with Sten machine guns and grenades, awaiting the inevitable communist invasion .
By the end of 1948, a well-trained and armed conspiratorial network spread across Western Europe. National agencies were to coordinate their activities through the Western Union Secret Committee (CCUO), based in Belgium. Andre Moyen, a retired chief of SDRA 8, liked to repeat: “Now many people say that Gladio was founded by the CIA. But this is ridiculous: after all, the CIA itself was founded only in September of the 1949 year - they just came to the ready! ”
Giulio Andreotti, 1990 year. Photo: Claudio Luffoli / AP Julio Andreotti, 1990 Year. Photo: Claudio Luffoli / AP
With the founding of NATO in the 1951 network, the Gladio was taken over by the joint Secret Planning Committee (CPC) in the Belgian city of Mons, and since then, at all coordination meetings, the chairman has always been an American intelligence officer.
In each of the countries, the future guerrilla units were structurally subordinate to counterintelligence or military intelligence, and information about them was, of course, classified — including from other departments of the same department. Such a double conspiracy system kept the secret of the Gladio undisclosed for an incredibly long period - up to the 1990 year, when Andreotti “voluntarily” announced its existence, finding that the cold war was not only over, but also belongs to a distant past. The Prime Minister also handed over to the parliamentary commission information on all the leaders of Gladio in Italy, the SISMI military intelligence officers who were formally responsible for the project, as well as the lists of hundreds of ordinary participants.
Andreotti's careful move did not suit anyone.
The ultra-right and military accused him of treason; General Vito Michelli, who was serving a sentence for an “unconstitutional plot”, exclaimed in prison: “I’m sitting for refusing to talk about the things that Julio has now spread out to the whole world!”
Journalists and parliamentarians were interested in the question of how civilian groups, organized to fight the invasion of the Red Army, were able to successfully survive until the 1990 year.
The most bloody activity of the "Gladio" was in Greece. There, the pro-British puppet government launched a campaign of terror against the Communists, which triggered a civil war, in which the part of the Mountain Assault Brigade (LOK), specially prepared by paratroopers from the British SAS, took an active part. To fight the popular left-wing movement, the British were forced to recruit yesterday’s fascists: as a result, the security forces of Greece consisted of only former collaborators and amnestied Nazis. After many years of massacre, which included actions of mass destruction of civilians (total number of dead - about 200 thousand people), the remnants of the communist groups of Greek partisans were squeezed into Yugoslavia: most of these people were later, together with their families, moved by Stalin to Uzbekistan, where they compactly lived up to the 1980's.
United States brought the Italian mafia to power
In Italy, too, the war was ready to break out: if the Communist Party (KPI) was victorious in the general election of 1948, the American troops were to begin immediate intervention. Gladio squads were on alert throughout the country. As in Greece, the positions of the right were very weak, gigantic funds were poured into the ruling Christian Democratic Party so that it could catch up with the stable 30% held by the KPI, which in total with the 15% of socialists gave a parliamentary majority. Large-scale election fraud in 1948 saved Italy from civil war - the CDA received a majority and was able to remain in power at a crucial moment. Nevertheless, it was a very shaky success: the sympathies of the population remained on the side of the left, and decisive action was needed to keep the opposition and its electorate under control.
In the south of the country, the left has traditionally been held back by the mafia. Intrigue is widely known, when in 1942, the US military entered into a mutually beneficial agreement with the New York boss Lucky Luciano: through it they reached influential Sicilian families who provided them with important information during the war years, and in 1943 the Mafiosi even took part in some operations on the side of the allies.
During the occupation, many of them were appointed by the mayors of America, the heads of municipalities, and ministers, which for many decades consolidated the power of Cosa Nostra in the region.
These people did not stand on ceremony with the Communists: the history included many murders, explosions, shootings of demonstrations perpetrated by the Mafia militants. The most famous of these acts of intimidation is the slaughter in Portella della Ginestra 1947 of the year, when gang members Salvatore Giuliano opened heavy fire on the May Day demonstration of the peasants. Dozens of people were killed, including four children. All the crimes were murdered by the murderers: becoming part of the political establishment, the provincial gangsters reached a new level, making the mafia the invincible force it is known now. This would have been impossible without the universal patronage of the United States and the ruling Christian Democratic Party of Italy.
Nevertheless, most regions, especially the most industrially developed, continued to sympathize with the left, and here the right on the streets still felt defended. They organized the “Italian Social Movement”, which completely inherited the “Social Republic” in Salo and supported Christian democrats in parliament at the municipal level. It includes most of the Gladio fighters, including Valerio Borghese’s brigade; The Black Prince himself later founded the revolutionary National Front group within the movement.
From the depths of the "Social Movement" came the main fascist groups that showed themselves in the "Years of Lead": "National Avant-garde" and "New Order". They proclaimed terror and an all-out war against all leftists, both in politics and on the streets. And, unlike the left, they really had the resources for the war: they had at their disposal huge stocks of weapons handed over by the Americans.
Similar processes took place throughout the distribution zone of the right-wing "partisan" networks. In Germany, the organization Reinhard Gehlen (former head of Nazi intelligence under Hitler) founded the extremist "Union of German Youth", whose existence was revealed in 1952 year. In the course of the parliamentary investigation, it turned out that the union was preparing to kill many figures of the Communist and Social Democratic parties, for which weapons from special caches left in the post-war years were to be used. Obviously, this organization was another branch of the Gladio project, and only its accidental liquidation prevented the development of the Italian street war scenario in Germany.
Using administrative contacts in the post-war authorities, where the extreme right played a huge role, Gladio began its independent development everywhere. Thus, the United States and Britain created the largest and most influential terrorist network in Europe in the second half of the twentieth century; the only question is whether they did it by chance or deliberately.