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  • Italian Terrorists Generate Fear in Europe
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    As the world battles Osama bin Laden and his followers, Italy and the rest of the European Union have another fight on their hands: finally eliminating the Red Brigade terrorist group. After appearing to be wiped out in the mid-1980s, the Marxist-Leninist radicals appear to be making a comeback.

    In late December, the police discovered a Red Brigade hideout near Roma's Termini train station. They found about 100 kilograms of explosives, detonators, floppy disks and Red Brigade documents including a flyer that took credit for a 2002 murder, according to various news outlets. In addition, a recent string of bombs sent to European Union leaders, including Italian Romano Prodi, has put Italian anarchist groups in the spotlight again.

    In the weeks leading up to 2004, Prodi, EU commission president, beefed up his security after homemade bombs went off in the garbage cans near his home. Also, a parcel bomb that was hidden in a book exploded in his hands causing no injury. "Certainly, it's not the best tidings for the next year," Prodi said, according to Reuters. "Let's be on our guard, but above all let's not lose our calm."

    In addition, Eurojust, a European crime fighting organization, and Europol, the EU's police agency, both headquartered in the Netherlands, received letter bombs, as did the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. At least two of the bombs were postmarked from Bologna. The German federal prosecutors office said it suspected an Italian anarchist group, according to CNN.

    Even if the Red Brigade has no direct ties to these latest threats, the group certainly continues to feed potential copycats with ideas. The ultra-left wing terrorist group formed in 1970 as the 1960s student movement came to a close. The goal of its members was to take violent measures to overthrow the capitalist Italian government.

    After taking hostage and murdering Aldo Moro, an Italian statesman and leader of the then-ruling Christian Democrat Party, the Red Brigade gained infamy. The motive: To convince the government to release 13 Red Brigade members. The terrorist group shocked and scared Italians and carried out other plots, but most members were imprisoned by the mid-1980s thanks to a government crackdown.

    The Red Brigade first resurfaced in 1999 after taking credit for the killing of Italian government labor consultant Massimo D'Antona, and again in 2000 for the murder of another labor consultant Marco Biagi. By October 2003, the authorities had arrested nine people associated with the group after an investigation of alleged Red Brigade member Nadia Desdemona Lioce. She was captured after her involvement in a train shootout that left another suspect and a police officer dead.

    The Red Brigade resurgence and recent letter bombs prove that terrorism is a real problem - and one that will not go away on its own. The cost of making a mistake, falling into a lull of security or failing to take threats seriously is far too great. Unfortunately, fear must be the motivating factor, the reason we all continue to pay attention to our enemies, the reason the government will again crack down on renegade groups.

    These domestic radicals also prove that our own people are aiding the enemy. These terrorists live within our walls, share our names, backgrounds and heritage. They do not necessarily follow some crazy man hiding out in a cave, nor are they limited to misunderstood, repressed foreigners with whom we have had no contact. Instead, they walk among us - right out in the open.

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