Spanish interlude

Borghese and Delle Chiaie were welcomed to Spain by numerous friends of the "Black Orchestra," in particular Otto Skorzeny, the Duke of Valencia, Jose Antonio Giron, a former Franco minister who provided them with accommodation at his villa in Fuengirol, and Mariano Sanchez Covisa, an influential Madrid businessman and father of the notorious "Guerrillas of Christ the King," the Spanish death squads.

Spain was to provide new opportunities for Stefano Delle Chiaie with his special skills, his considerable influence over his friendship circle and his small army of dedicated followers in both Italy and Spain. His leadership qualities were immediately recognised by Skorzeny, who took him under his wing as his protege. Skorzeny's business operations also provided useful cover for the real life's work of Delle Chiaie, which was now entering a new and more international phase.

THE PALADIN ORGANISATION

The spirit of "contestation" which marked the late sixties and early seventies throughout the western world inspired a resurgence in the activities of the anti- Francoist movement in Spain. The terrorist campaign initiated by the Basque separatist organisation ETA was a particularly aggravating thorn in the flesh of the dictatorship. Obsessed with the threat of communism and inspired by the ideas of SAS founder David Stirling, Skorzeny had, since the early fifties, been toying with the idea of setting up an "international directorship of strategic assault personnel" whose terms of reference would enable it to "straddle the watershed between the paramilitary operations carried out by the troops in uniform and the political warfare which is conducted by civilian agents." (Letter from David Stirling to Charles Foley published in the latter's book on Skorzeny, Commando Extraordinary.)

The political turbulence and rapid polarisation of western society which began in the mid-sixties in the wake of the third world liberation movements and, in particular, the example of the Vietnam War, convinced Skorzeny that the time was ripe to put his ideas into practice (Just as Stirling was doing in Britain with his "Watchguard" organisation with which he hoped to counter "communist-inspired" anti-government forces and maintain the "status quo" for the West).1

With the tide of unrest growing in intensity month by month and the increasing number of guerrilla actions against military and political pillars of the Franco regime, both at home and abroad, Skorzeny was given a free hand by the Spanish Interior Ministry to deal with the thorny but delicate problem of neutralising the perceived enemies of Francoism. In 1968 he began recruiting former Waffen-SS and OAS men for this purpose. French Nazi party leader Francoise Dior signed up many members of her organisation who were then taken to San Sebastian to be interviewed by Skorzeny who informed them they would be called upon when Franco died if the Army did not manage to take control. Other recruits were found primarily among the ranks of former members of the OAS, the later outlawed Service d'Action Civique (SAC), as well as South Tyrolean and exiled Yugoslav fascists, anti-Castro Cubans and Portuguese exile fascists.

The day-to-day running of the Paladin organisation, as it was named, was entrusted by Skorzeny to an old colleague from the Third Reich, Dr. Gerhardt Harmut von Schubert. Von Schubert, if that indeed was his real name, was, like many other leading figures among the old guard of the "Black Orchestra," an ex-employee of Goebbel's Propaganda Ministry.

After the war he had been security adviser to the vicious Peron dictatorship in Argentina, then after that a principal agent in Skorzeny's construction of the Gestapo-style Egyptian security services under Neguib and Nasser.

The public face of the Paladin organisation was that of a legitimate security consultancy but this was only to provide cover for its real function of recruiting mercenaries and killers for dictators and failing colonialist regimes. Its covert activities in France and Spain were carried out under a variety of convenient names: "Spanish Basque Battalions," the "Guerrillas of Christ the King," the "Apostolic Anti-Communist Alliance," etc.

MURDER OF CERRADA

The arrival of Delle Chiaie and his army of dedicated followers boosted the ranks of Paladin and marked the beginning of a bloodthirsty and ruthless campaign of murder and terror directed against exiled dissidents and "enemies of the regime."

Under cover of the confusing variety of names this neo-fascist sub-state agency has organised and carried out well over a thousand punitive attacks in Spain and the French border area, particularly around Bayonne, killed around fifty people and seriously wounded many hundreds more. Aldo Tisei, the neofascist "supergrass" who took over the military organisation of the Delle Chiaie group in Italy following its leader's move to Spain, later informed investigating magistrates: "We eliminated ETA members who had fled to France—and did so on behalf of the Spanish secret services."2 The murderer of the almost legendary anarchist Laureano Cerrada Santos, Ramon Benicho Canuda, may also have been working with the Paladin organisation. The frame-up of eleven anarchists in France following the kidnapping of Spanish banker Balthazar Suarez in May 1974 also appears to have involved at least one Paladin provocateur by the name of Martinez.

Paladin did not work solely for the Francoist security agency: it carried out contracts on behalf of numerous other sub-fascist regimes and agencies as well. Supergrass Aldo Tisei elaborated: "We had solid and highly effective links of a political as well as an operational nature with some foreign secret services, among whom I may name, without fear of contradiction, the Chilean DINA and the Spanish secret services up to Franco's death. They also supplied us with superb logistical back-up and helped find us effective assistance in the event of our going on the run. Obviously these services wanted favours in return. On DINA's behalf we carried out the attack on the chairman of the exiled Chilean Christian Democrats, Bernardo Leighton and his wife. On behalf of the Spanish we have, as I said, eliminated runaway ETA terrorists who had fled from Spain."

Tisei also went into some detail about the role of Delle Chiaie in the "Black Orchestra": "This [international planning and coordination] is an area personally looked after by Stefano Delle Chiaie and if he were to succeed in his plans it would spell a lot of danger for the institutions [sic]. For in that case, the armed groups of the far right would derive massive advantages."

THE BRESCIA AND ITALICUS TRAIN BOMBINGS

1974 saw the restructuring of the Italian extra-parliamentary right with the establishment of much closer international links with other neo-fascist movements and even more sinister umbrella organisations such as the World Anti Communist League.

The offensive was not long in coming. On 28 May a bomb exploded at an anti-fascist rally in Brescia, killing 8 and injuring 102 people. A communique was received shortly after claiming responsibility for the outrage on behalf of a hitherto unknown group using the name "Ordine Nero." ON was, in fact, just one of many names to be used by the now amalgamated "Ordine-Nuovo" and "Avanguardia Nazionale."

A few months later, on 4 August, another bomb exploded aboard the Rome- Munich "Italicus" express train near Bologna, killing 12 people and injuring 48. The date chosen for this outrage would appear not to have been random. Italian police investigating the murder of a Greek student in Rome the following February uncovered evidence that the "Italicus" bombing involved both Italian and Greek fascists. Kostas Plevris's "4th August Movement," outlawed after the overthrow of the Junta in July 1974, had reorganised as a clandestine terrorist organisation under the name of the Greek equivalent of the Italian "Ordine Nuovo," both meaning "New Order." Two years of investigation eventually led to charges being preferred against another hardline element in the Delle Chiaie network — Mario Tutti, founder of the pro-Ghadaffi "Italian- Libyan Friendship Society."

Lotta Continua, the Italian left-wing paper, later published a story in which it claimed that a gang of right-wing policemen, the so-called "Black Dragons," had been involved along with Tutti in the "Italicus" and other train bombings. The same article disclosed that a member of the "Black Dragons," police officer Bruno Cresca, then in prison on charges of robbery, had been involved in the rocket attack on a Pan American plane at Rome's Fiumicino airport on 17 December 1973 in which 32 people had burned to death. The attack was claimed by a hitherto unknown "Palestinian People Organisation." Lotta Continua also published a duty roster and photograph proving Cresca had been on duty at Fiumicino on the day of the attack, although officially assigned to other duties a month before. The paper also quoted a witness who claimed to have seen the terrorists slip through a side door, ushered by a policeman in uniform, thereby evading the searches which would have led to the discovery of their weapons. Finally, Lotta Continua published a handwritten facsimile of a police interrogation of Cresca following the discovery of some 30 million lire on his person. Although incomplete, Cresca's answers appear to indicate that the money had been given to him in September 1974 in payment for work done in Rome the previous year. Does this refer to the Fiumicino attack?

THE ARMS FACTORY IN THE CALLE PELAIO

Stefano Delle Chiaie continued to use Spain as his base while he travelled regularly between Madrid and Rome for nearly six years. After the death of his protector Skorzeny and General Franco in 1975, following hard on the collapse of the Portuguese and Greek dictatorships the previous year, it became increasingly obvious it was time to move on to more secure surroundings. The crunch came following a police raid in February 1977 on a clandestine arms factory in the Calle Pelaio in Madrid, owned by another of Delle Chiaie's Spanish godfathers: Mariano Sanchez Covisa, leader of the "Guerrillas of Christ the King." Nine of Delle Chiaie's closest associates among the Italian exiled neofascists were arrested in connection with this discovery, but forewarned (or lucky!), both Delle Chiaie and his friend Yves Guerin-Serac (who had been in Spain organising the counter-revolutionary "Portuguese Liberation Army" on behalf of General Spinola to overthrow the progressive Armed Forces Movement) managed to elude their would-be captors and once again disappeared from view.

After the arms factory raid, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior issued an interesting statement regarding information uncovered as a result of the raid that the US-made Ingram M10 machinegun used in the killing in 1976 of the examining magistrate investigating the Italicus train bombing, Vittorio Occorsio, "was modified and perfected by the engineer Eliodoro Pomar in the Calle Pelaio factory." What the statement did not say was that the machinegun had been given to Stefano Delle Chiaie by agents of the Guardia Civil "for services rendered."

LINKS WITH MAFIA

"Supergrass" Aldo Tisei, the organisational head of the neo-fascist terrorist infrastructure in Italy following the flight abroad of the original leaders of the various terrorist groups, and one of the two men charged with the murder of Occorsio, has subsequently revealed the close interdependence between organised crime and the security services. Tisei revealed the real reason for the murder of Occorsio: "…Occorsio was the first magistrate to realise that behind our political movement, Ordine Nuovo, stood a terrorist organisation with links to other foreign organisations with anti-democratic objectives." It now appears that Occorsio had uncovered links with the Masonic lodge P2;3 from these links and from those with organised crime, the neo-fascists derived political protection and all the skills of the underworld necessary to pursue their activities. Also after the Madrid arms factory raid, further investigations by the Spanish police led to the discovery of fascist leader Elio Massagrande's bank deposit box which was found to contain large sums of foreign currency and three gold bars from the 1976 25-million-dollar Nice bank robbery carried out by Albert Spaggiari and Italian and Spanish fascist terrorists, all contract employees of the Paladin organisation. Elio Massagrande and another fascist, Gaetano Orlando, managed to escape to Paraguay where, after international protest, they were both arrested in December 1977, but released again in a matter of days on the direct orders of President Stroessner.

DRUGS AND GUNS

Aldo Tisei has further alleged that the Delle Chiaie organisation also operated as an espionage agency for an unnamed Libyan diplomat who also allegedly ran a huge heroin smuggling operation. In return for money and drugs the neofascists' task was to supply the diplomat with secret information on weapons and warfare systems being manufactured and developed by the Selenia and Contraves companies, the two leading Italian firms in the sector. One Delle Chiaie agent, Antonio Leandri, worked at Contraves but he was murdered before he could be questioned by police.

The identity of the Libyan diplomat is unknown, but Rome investigating magistrate Ferdinando Imposimato has written: "Many facts and discoveries prove the close links, going back to the early seventies, between the Libyan government and leading exponents of fascist subversion operating in Italy." It is no accident that one of the leading members of the Delle Chiaie network, Claudio Mutti, was for a long time the chairman of the Italia-Libia Association. Also, Mario Tutti, the neo-fascist killer charged with the "Italicus" express bombing, is known to have cashed a cheque from the Libyan Embassy in Rome while on the run in 1975.

In 1978 Ordine Nuovo, reconstituted in 1974 as a merger between Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale which led to the formation of the terrorist organisation Nuclei Armata Rivoluzionaria (NAR; "Armed Revolutionary Groups"), issued clandestine "Order Papers" to members. These papers make it clear that the new organisational network was now international in scope and that the operational bases had been moved outside Italy. They instructed cells to use different names for each attack. One went so far as to say: "After murder comes indiscriminate terrorism."

  • 1. See Appendix F.
  • 2. Delle Chiaie made at least three trips to Greece during the course of 1971 accompanied by Yves Guerin-Serac, Guido Giannettini and a number of others, including Bruno Stefano and Gianni Nardi, both later implicated in the Calabrese murder. The purpose of these trips was to attend courses in urban guerrilla and psychological warfare organised by the KYP/CIA front organisation "World Service."
  • 3. In relation to the murder of Occorsio it is interesting to note that the murderers, Concutelli and Tisei, were safehoused in an apartment rented to them by a Rome businessman, Pietro Citti, a friend and confidant of Flavio Carboni, the Italian financier and Lodge P2 member later involved in the last, tragic flight of Roberto Calvi of the Banco Ambrosiano to London. Calvi's last night alive was spent in the London home of another freemason and relative of Carboni, Michael Morris. Pietro Citti, the Carboni front man, had close ties with Delle Chiaie to whom he had leased his apartment at Via Sartorio 5 in Rome for a hideout. It was from this hideout that the murder of Occorsio was planned and effected, with Stefano Delle Chiaie's Ingram MAC10 machinegun. Pietro Citti also appears to have been a link man between Carboni, acting on behalf of Lodge P2, and Delle Chiaie, whom he visited on occasion in Madrid.