Delle Chiaie's principal contact, and puppetmaster within the Italian secret service during this period was Guido Giannettini, a right-wing journalist of high standing in western intelligence circles.
In November 1961, Giannettini had been invited by General Pedro del Valle, commander of the United States Central Naval Academy at Annapolis, to conduct a three-day seminar on “The Techniques and Prospects of a Coup d'Etat in Europe.” His audience included both Pentagon and CIA representatives. This appears to have established Giannettini as a respected figure among NATO spy chiefs.
At this time a principal concern in western strategic thinking was the need to counter nascent national liberation movements in Africa and Asia in such a way that while it might not be possible to prevent the emergence into sovereign statehood of the old colonies and dependencies it should be possible to keep them within the western "sphere of influence" by securing the eclipse or demise of the more virulently nationalist leaders and their replacement by "friends of the west," avowed champions of private enterprise and staunch anticommunists who would take whatever steps were necessary within their countries to prevent the colonialist interests being replaced by Russian and Chinese ones.
The principal vehicle used to this end was a "plausibly deniable" intelligence front, an international news agency based in Lisbon<fn> As a centre for subversion and intrigue in Africa, Lisbon would have been a natural choice. Portugal then still had a fascist government and vast and wealthy territories in Africa which it had no plans to shed. </fn> called Aginter Press.
Although the declared aims of this agency were "to focus the attention of an anxious elite upon the perils of insidious subversion which slowly infiltrates through everyday reports, to denounce its methods and the mechanics of its manoeuvres…" it was not until many years later, following Portugal's "Revolution of the Flowers" in May 1974, that the revolutionary investigators from the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement discovered the true function of Aginter Press.
Its founder and chief was an ex-French army officer and member of the OAS, the pro-settler terrorist conspiracy within the French army in Algeria (1961-62), also a veteran of the Korean war (1950-53) and the Indochina war (1945-54) in which he had served as French liaison officer with the newly formed CIA. His name was Captain Yves Guillou, but he was better known by his adopted name of Yves Guerin-Serac.
Following the defeat of the OAS putsch in Algeria in 1962 Guerin-Serac had deserted from his command of the 3rd Commando of the 11th Demi-Brigade of Parachute Shock Troops and sought refuge in Lisbon with his political mentor Pierre Lagaillarde, generally regarded as the "father" of the OAS. He came, he later claimed, to Portugal to offer his services to the last remaining colonial empire which could provide the last bulwark against communism and atheism:
"The others have laid down their weapons, but not I. After the OAS I fled to Portugal to carry on the fight and expand it to its proper dimensions– which is to say, a planetary dimension." (Paris Match, November 1974.)
According to a report by the post-1974 Portuguese intelligence service, SDCI, set up to replace the hated PIDE of the Salazar and Caetano regimes, Aginter Press provided for:
1. An espionage bureau run by the Portuguese secret police and, through them, the CIA, the West German BND or "Gehlen Organisation," the Spanish Direccion General de Seguridad, South Africa's BOSS and, later, the Greek KYP.
2. A centre for the recruitment and training of mercenaries and terrorists specialising in sabotage and assassination.
3. A strategic centre for neo-fascist and right-wing political indoctrination operations in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and Europe in conjunction with a number of sub-fascist regimes, well-known rightwing figures and internationally active neo-fascist groups.
4. An international fascist organisation called "Order and Tradition" with a clandestine paramilitary wing called OACI, "Organisation Armee contre le Communisme International. "
The OACI was set up by Guerin-Serac, Giannettini, and the escaped wartime Nazi Otto Skorzeny, one of the principal guardians of the fund set up at Himmler's behest in 1944 to secure the survival of the Nazi movement beyond its impending military defeat at the hands of the allies.<fn> See Appendix A. </fn> We can return to Skorzeny later, but it is worth remarking here that Giannettini would have been linked to Guerin-Serac not only through their intelligence backgrounds but also through the OAS exiles such as Jean Jacques Susini and Georges Bidault who took up residence in Italy after the defeat of their putsch in 1962.<fn> The planned invasion of France by the OAS was frustrated by native and settler workers on Algerian airfields, who sabotaged the aircraft which should have carried the OAS "Paras." </fn> At this time Giannettini became one of their main agents, liaising between them and the Italian government in conjunction with their representative Philippe de Massey. Giannettini's efforts were recognised when in the same year, 1962, he was invested by the OAS with the title "Captain of the Crusade."<fn> The occasion of the investiture was a field mass in Spain attended by the leadership of the Falange Espanola, Spain's only legal political party, and representatives of the OAS. </fn>
Describing his organisation, Guerin-Serac wrote:
<blockquote> Our number consists of two types of men:
1. Officers who have come to us from the fighting in Indochina and Algeria, and some who even enlisted with us after the battle for Korea.
2. Intellectuals who, during this same period turned their attention to the study of the techniques of Marxist subversion... Having formed study groups, they have shared experiences in an attempt to dissect the techniques of Marxist subversion and to lay the foundations of a counter-technique. During this period we have systematically established close contacts with like-minded groups emerging in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain or Portugal, for the purpose of forming the kernel of a truly Western league of Struggle against Marxism.
The role of the secret OACI was described as “…to be prepared to intervene anywhere in the world to confront the gravest communist threats.”
The catalyst for action seems to have been the preparations for the "Tri-Continental" Congress scheduled for Havana from 3 to 10 January 1966.
Organised by the exiled Moroccan opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka, this congress, which was described as "the first solidarity conference of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America," and which had Soviet and Chinese backing, threw right wing political circles and intelligence services into a panic. The first theatre of operations for Aginter agents was Africa. The Portuguese SDCI report states that the agency's "correspondents" began their operations there towards the end of 1965, but goes into little detail. It merely notes that Aginter "dispatched its operation chiefs… to the countries bordering Portuguese Africa... Their aim included the liquidation of leaders of the liberation movements, infiltration, the installation of informers and provocateurs, and the utilisation of false liberation movements. "
It is no coincidence that this same period saw the beginning of a campaign of murder and kidnapping of many leaders of the anti-colonialist struggle, including Ben Barka, the organiser of the "Tri-Continental," who disappeared in Paris on 29 October 1965, the murders of Portuguese opposition leader Humberto Delgado and later, Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa’s foremost revolutionary figures
Apart from the actual physical elimination of suspected or openly antiwestern political leaders and militants, Aginter press operations were designed to manipulate popular feeling by means of the so-called "Strategy of Tension."
This appears to have been devised by an ill-assorted collection of right-wing elements in international political, military and intelligence circles in the early sixties, the idea being to bring about, apparently because of labour and leftwing activity, such social disruption and uncertainty that the populace would favour the installation of a strong-arm government pledged to restore "order."
Aginter agents would hardly have been true to their self-elected role of "forming the kernel of a truly Western League of Struggle against Marxism… prepared to intervene anywhere in the world" if they had confined their attentions to Africa and Asia and not looked inside NATO itself at Italy. Italy had and has a large and popular Communist Party (the PCI), which is highly critical of Moscow (not to mention Peking) and well entrenched in local government. The far right, on the other hand, is historically the party (under Mussolini) of national humiliation and defeat. The PCI is avowedly neutralist, and were it to gain power would take Italy out of NATO, depriving the Western alliance of its headquarters for Southern Land Forces at La Maddalena in Sardinia and Southern Command HQ at Naples, the principle NATO naval base in the Mediterranean and home of the US Sixth Fleet.
The “Strategy of Tension” itself was outlined in a document which came to light in October 1974. Dated November 1969 it was one of a number of dispatches sent to Lisbon by Aginter’s Italian correspondents. The document is entitled “Our Political Activity” which it explains thus:
<blockquote> Our belief is that the first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favouring the installation of chaos in all of the regime's structures. This should necessarily begin with the undermining of the state economy so as to arrive at confusion throughout the whole legal apparatus. This leads on to a situation of strong political tension, fear in the world of industry and hostility towards the government and the political parties... In our view the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state, under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities. Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu – propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our communist adversaries and pressure brought to bear on people in whom power is invested at every level. That will create a feeling of hostility towards those who threaten the peace of each and every nation, and at the same time we must raise up a defender of the citizenry [sic] against the disintegration brought about by terrorism and subversion... </blockquote>
The report goes on to describe the political situation in Italy and the emergence of the extra-parliamentary left: "Outside the present contingencies these people are possessed of a new enthusiasm and huge impatience. This fact should be carefully considered. The introduction of provocateur elements into the circles of the revolutionary left is merely a reflection of the wish to push this unstable situation to breaking point and create a climate of chaos..." The unknown author concludes: "Pro-Chinese circles, characterised by their own impatience and zeal, are right for infiltration... Our activity must be to destroy the structure of the democratic State under the cover of communist and pro- Chinese activities; we have already infiltrated some of our people into these groups…"<fn> An Italian police report on Aginter Press contained the following outline of the specialised training courses: Instruction was divided under four headings: action, propaganda, intelligence and security, with great emphasis being put on psychological operations and the techniques of terrorism and sabotage. The theory course was also outlined: "Subversion applies appropriate methods to minds and wills in order to induce them to act regardless of all logic and against all norms and laws, and thus conditions individuals and enables one to do with them as one wishes. Terrorism: terrorism breaks down resistance, obtains its submission and provokes a breach between the populace and the authorities. Selective terrorism: breaking down the political and administrative machinery by eliminating its cadres. Blind terrorism: smashing the people's trust by disorganising the masses, the better to manipulate them." </fn>
One of the key Aginter Press and OACI agents responsible for co-ordinating this infiltration of the left was none other than Stefano Delle Chiaie, long a "man of confidence" of the exiled OAS Italian infrastructure and who carried an Aginter Press card in the name of Giovanni Martelli. As already stated, it is not known precisely when Stefano Delle Chiaie was first recruited as an agent of the Italian secret service, but he was certainly working on behalf of the Interior Ministry as far back as 1960 and he himself has implied knowledge of – and involvement with — De Lorenzo's "Plan Solo." What is certain is that in the spring of 1964 all members of Avanguardia Nazionale underwent courses on the theory and practice of terrorism, psychological warfare and the construction of explosive devices.
The following is the sworn statement of a member of the Delle Chiaie organisation to an Italian journalist:
<blockquote> Mario Merlino [leading AN member who later infiltrated a Rome anarchist group in order to pin the blame for the bomb outrages of December 1969 on the anarchist movement as part of the "Strategy of Tension"] told me that he, Stefano Delle Chiaie, and two others were approached by a carabinieri officer and an NCO, one Pizzichemi or was it Pizzichemini… the name I cannot recall exactly... who suggested to them that they should hide some explosives in some PCI branches which they (the police) would then proceed to have searched. He (Merlino) added that they had also suggested as ideal targets for attacks the Rome HQ of the Christian Democrats, the Confindustria premises in the Piazza Venezia and the RAI television studios. </blockquote>
The three AN members given the job of infiltrating and planting the explosives in the PCI branches were recognised and chased, but the bombings of the RAI studios and the Christian Democrat premises went ahead. Within a few weeks all five of Delle Chiaie's men were arrested and subsequently sentenced for these attacks. When eventually released, all five openly denounced their political master for having betrayed them. No investigation was launched into Delle Chiaie's obvious links with these and other incidents which served only to further enhance "Il Caccola's" growing reputation as untouchable.
The provocations attempted against the left by the members of Delle Chiaie's organisation at this time were the beginnings of the application of the Strategy of Tension in Italy. Meanwhile, following the aborting of Plan Solo, the powerful men inside the Italian state machine itself who ultimately controlled Delle Chiaie, led by General de Lorenzo, built up an efficient military machine capable of seizing power whenever the situation demanded.
De Lorenzo and his colleagues set about creating a secret and powerful putschist organisation which became known as La Rosa Dei Venti–Giunta Executiva Riscossa Sociale Italiana (The Rose of the Winds–Executive Council of Italian Social Salvation).
In the mid-sixties De Lorenzo was one of the most powerful men in Italy. Appointed head of the Secret Services (SIFAR) in 1956 by President Gronchi, he stayed on as head of SIFAR after he was made commander of the carabinieri in 1962. The carabinieri are: "a military gendarmerie operating on a national scale unlike the police who are organised on a local basis in towns. Discipline is high, and extends into a carabinero's private life. He may not, for example, marry before a certain age, and has to obtain his commanding officer's permission. The public, generally, has a high regard for the carabinieri.
Since the carabinieri have units down to the village level, the C-in-C is in an unrivalled position to keep his finger on the pulse of what is going on. He would also be excellently placed to take some undemocratic initiative against the established system, were he so inclined. Probably, for this reason, the C-in-C is chosen not from the carabinieri's own ranks, but from among army generals who hold the post for a specified period of time." (Source: Conflict Studies No. 8, November 1970.)
The organisation aimed to ensure that the Italian officer corps consisted solely of men loyal to La Rosa's objectives, and to this end General De Loronzo methodically set about purging the carabinieri and secret services of all socialists and anti-fascists and replacing them with his own "men of confidence." He also began to build up the carabinieri into a highly trained regular army unit, equipping them with heavy weapons, armoured vehicles and a special parachute detachment. In effect La Rosa controlled the state's main instruments of control and repression.
The army rank and file, being conscripts, were most certainly suspect to the right and could not be relied upon. One of the functions of the "Rose of the Winds" was to create a secret parallel army within the other armed forces (other than the carabinieri) to ensure a quick neutralising of "subversives." Who counted as a "subversive" was to be established by turning the secret services (SIFAR, later SID) into a police corps almost exclusively concerned with compiling dossiers and filing information on Italian citizens. In 1967 it was discovered that SIFAR/SID had unlawfully built up dossiers on some 157,000 Italians.
Details of the "Rose of the Winds" conspiracy were uncovered in 1974. One of the plotters, Roberto Cavallero, a senior right-wing trade unionist, said of it:
<blockquote> "the organisation was set up in 1964 after the failure of De Lorenzo's 'Plan Solo.' Everything which has happened since, from the Parco dei Principe congress<fn> See Appendix B. </fn> down to today has been part and parcel of a single trend…. La Rosa is a secret organisation at the summit of which there are eighty-seven senior officers representing every corps and all of the security services. The group has a foothold in every part of the country and operational nuclei of officers dispersed throughout every detachment. There is also a group of officers in liaison with the far-right organisations who are party to conspiracies." </blockquote>
According to Robert Cavallero's statement, La Rosa's justification for its decision to intervene in Italian political life was that: "a coup d'etat along Chilean or Greek lines was not on in Italy where account had to be taken, on the one hand, of the overall political situation – the nine million communist voters — and on the other, of a certain moral laxity which also infests the military and precludes an intervention of that sort."
Cavallero's description of the method of setting the stage for a coup was explicit: "We have opted for the strategy of tension for it is necessary for us to create a desire for order in the man in the street... The Organisation has a legitimate role: its role is to prevent our institutions being placed in jeopardy. When trouble erupts in the country — rioting, trade union pressure, violence, etc. — the Organisation goes into action to conjure up the option of a return to order. When these troubles do not erupt (of themselves), they are contrived by the far right. . . directed and financed by members of the Organisation." When the later head of the Italian secret services, General Miceli, ultimately admitted the existence of the "Rose of the Winds" organisation to investigating magistrates, he stated: "A super-secret SID, acting on orders from me? Fair enough, but I never set it up for the purpose of mounting a coup d'etat; I did so at the request of the Americans and NATO..."
"The Rose of the Winds" conspirators were convinced that the only way to preclude a communist takeover was to create a powerful and all-pervasive network of informers and spies which would enable the state to monitor all popular movements, maintain a check on leading dissidents and, when necessary, eliminate them. The organisation they set up, like its predecessor, Mussolini's OVRA (Opera Volontaria Repressione Antifascismo), was intended to provide an effective instrument of repression capable of both manipulating popular mass movements and smashing them at birth.<fn> Plans for a proposed coup d'etat found in October 1973 (for the beginning of 1974) consisted of: Phase 1: The operation to be financed on the basis of support from extreme right-wing industrialists, bank robberies and kidnappings. Phase 2: Application of the Strategy of Tension and perpetration of outrages throughout the peninsula to be attributed to both left and right with the object of creating "psychosis" among the populace. Phase 3: An offensive against leftist organisations, assassinations of leftist leaders. Phase 4: Military intervention. Officers and putschist troops combine with far right in neutralising "democratic officers. Phase 5: Execution of 1624 named individuals. Phase 6: Creation of a regime based on the principles of Mussolini's Salo Republic. </fn>
In late 1965, as Aginter Press in Lisbon was getting its international campaign against nationalist movements into gear, Delle Chiaie's organisation embarked on a massive campaign of disruption and provocation directed against the Italian Communist Party on the eve of its national congress. It was a "black propaganda" campaign which bore all the hallmarks of a security service-inspired "psy-ops" manoeuvre. Overnight, thousands of forged PCI posters and leaflets covered the walls and streets of Rome but, although a number of well known AN activists, such as Delle Chiaie's right-hand man Flavio Campo, were arrested, no serious charges ensued.
This campaign was apparently financed by the extreme right-wing Roman Catholic organisation Comitati Civici, an organisation which shared AN's advocacy of struggle against "neo-illuminism" and the "unholy alliance" between Catholic modernism and creeping socialist reformism. Stories abounded that a considerable part of the three million lire provided for the campaign had gone into the pockets of the AN leadership. Certainly, Delle Chiaie acquired a brand new wardrobe and a new Austin A40 to go with his new upward mobility.
Unexpectedly, and for no apparent reason, Stefano Delle Chiaie dissolved Avanguardia Nazionale in the early part of 1966. The dissolution of what had apparently been a healthy and flourishing neo-fascist organisation had nothing to do with internal squabbles or dissension; nor did it signify a change of heart among the organisation's leaders. It was, in fact, for the purpose of infiltration — in order to develop the "Strategy of Tension" and to implement the long term plans of the "Rose of the Winds." Having apparently failed to penetrate the rigid structure of the official Communist organisation the fascists turned their attention to the more volatile marxist-leninist ("maoist") groups and the anarchist movement.
Hardline neo-fascists of long standing such as Flavio Campo and Serafino Di Lula suddenly vanished from circulation. Other members of the Delle Chiaie organisation reentered the fold of the parent MSI, many securing key positions within the party. Cataldo Strippoli became its national youth director while his brother Attlio became provincial secretary of the party.
Stefano Delle Chiaie himself went underground to coordinate the whole campaign. Accompanying him were his trusted associates Nerio Leonori and Carmine Palladino (whose murder in 1982 Delle Chiaie is strongly suspected of ordering to ensure he did not talk). The stratagem they employed was generally the same: once they had infiltrated their target organisations they played the role of informers and agents-provocateurs, urging and organising bombings, outrages, provocations and contriving confrontations with the police. Most were unaware they were working on behalf of factions within the Italian secret services.
During this period of clandestinity, Delle Chiaie appears to have travelled widely in Europe, Visiting Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany where he was in contact with members of Franz Josef Strauss's Bavarian CSU.
According to a deposition made by AN member Mario Merlino it was during this period that Delle Chiaie made contact with a mysterious Frenchman referred to as "Jean" and whom he introduced to friends as a "military instructor and explosives expert." Merlino claims that in the company of this Frenchman both he and Delle Chiaie planted a bomb in the South Vietnamese embassy in Rome one night "in order to get the blame laid on the left." These tactics were to be employed with relentless regularity as the Strategy of Tension built up momentum.
Although the identity of this Frenchman is not known with any certainty, it is probable he was either an Aginter agent such as Jean-Marie Laurent or Yves Guerin-Serac himself, who, according to SIFAR reports, was known to have made numerous trips to Italy between 1966 and 1968.
On 21 April 1967 the forces of reaction received a major boost with the CIA inspired military coup in Greece. Following a period of political instability and acts of terrorism as prescribed by the Strategy of Tension three hundred senior members of the elite US-trained and NATO controlled "Mountain Assault Brigade" put into effect the NATO contingency plan "Plan Prometheus" and toppled the democratically elected government.
Among the very first official guests of the Greek Junta was Pino Rauti, founder of Ordine Nuovo, one of the organisers of the Parco dei Principe conference, agent of the Italian secret services – and mentor and friend of Stefano Delle Chiaie. As special envoy from the Roman right-wing daily Il Tempo, Rauti was officially welcomed by General Patakos of the Junta, but Rauti had other less obvious reasons for his visit than journalistic inquiry. On a more discreet level he met with the new head of the Greek military police, Dimitrios Ionnidis and Colonel Ioannis Ladas, secretary general of the Ministry of Public Order and a died-in-the-wool fascist. One of his principal contacts was his host, Kostas Plevris, an agent of the Greek Central Intelligence Agency (KYP) attached to its Italian desk. Plevris was also the founder and leader of the Greek neo-fascist "4th August Movement,"<fn> Founded August 1965 and named after the date on which General Metaxas established his dictatorship in 1936. </fn> the private secretary of Colonel Ioannis Ladas and teacher of sociology in both the military academy and the police training school as well as being adviser to the armed forces on anticommunism and psychological warfare. This is a convenient theory of the "centre." i.e., those with a vested interest in the illusion of democratic parliamentary government as the engine of social justice, since it diverts attention from their own impotence to deal with any reactionary threat and also tends to discredit those genuine revolutionary elements who rightly accuse the parliamentarians of lulling the workers into class-collaborationist reformism and dangerous quietism. The theory also suits the fascists, by and large, as any mass following they enjoy depends on popular appeal; if any radical successes can be claimed by them, so much the better! Plevris was also a key figure in the "World Service" press agency, a front organisation for the KYP, run by French journalist, infiltrator of European Nazi groups, and possible intelligence agent Patrice Chairoff, under the pseudonym of Dr. Siegfried Schoenenberg.
The next few months were busy ones for Rauti. Together with Stefano Delle Chiaie he organised a series of semi-official trips to Greece of parties of handpicked right-wing Greek students studying in Italy and around fifty selected members of Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale. Although officially described as cultural exchanges, the trips were sponsored jointly by General Enza Viola of the Italian general staff and the Greek secret service. The effect of these trips on those who took part would appear to verge on the miraculous. Died-in-the-wool Italian Nazis returned from the Colonels' Greece "convinced" socialists, communists, Maoists and anarchists. Serafino di Luia, one of the most vicious of Delle Chiaie's hatchet-men, returned to found "Lotta di Popolo," a group which eulogised Cuba, China, Arab nationalism and European traditional fascism using the most outrageously pseudorevolutionary vocabulary imaginable — something which was seized on immediately by the media as exemplary of the muddled ideology of the student movement and established the "theory" of "opposing extremisms": that the "far left" and "far right" share common objectives and are often controlled and funded by the same source.
Other Nazis, such as Giovanni Ventura and Franco Freda, whose names would recur in the near future as central figures in the Piazza Fontana outrage, returned to have the presses of their print shops — machines which had hitherto been confined to printing the works of Adolf Hitler and Houston Stewart Chamberlain — began to run off the writings of Che Guevara and Peter Kropotkin.
After a long period of clandestine preparation, Delle Chiaie "came in from the cold" and re-established Avanguardia Nazionale. Throughout the early part of 1969 he is reported to have travelled extensively, spending April and May in North Italy. This same period also saw an increasing number of punitive attacks and terrorist outrages of dubious and uncertain origin.
Avanguardia Nazionale was now fully armed and well financed, a pattern which was being repeated all over Italy by small groups of the far right. Neo-fascist offices and branches which had long since folded suddenly reopened, attracting many new members. By the spring of 1969 the neo-fascist presence had made itself felt throughout Italy with the streets of most Italian towns, cities and villages being plastered with rightist posters and leaflets singing the praises of the new right. Apart from the re-emergence of the well- established organisations and groups of the extreme right wing, refreshed and refortified, this phenomenon was accompanied by a proliferation of new groups of the neo-fascist extra-parliamentary right.
One of the main sources of income which helped stimulate the regeneration of Italian neo-fascism in the late sixties was an American bank with close political, intelligence and Mafia ties: the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company based in Cicero, near Chicago. It was this bank, together with the Vatican bank (or Institute for Religious Works to give it its proper title) which provided the financial backing for Michele Sindona's ill-fated Banca Privata Finanziaria; this was the bank centrally involved in the massive transfer of Italian industrial holdings to the control of US multinationals which later facilitated the massive movement of capital from Italy and the subsequent loss of confidence in the currency that was a major contributory factor in the buildup to what later became known as the "Hot Autumn" of 1969.
The Continental Illinois is a bank with strong Italian connections and is believed to be a conduit for Mafia money. Coincidentally, the head of the Vatican bank, Archbishop Paul Marcincus, is a native of Cicero.
The President of Continental Illinois at the time was David Kennedy, a man who later became Treasury Secretary in President Nixon's first cabinet. Another business partner of the Continental Illinois was Carlo Pesenti, the Lombardian cement magnate and "guardian angel" of Stefano Delle Chiaie. Equally of interest was the fact that one of the mainstays of the Nixon election campaign and the later notorious Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) in the 1972 campaign, was MSI Deputy Luigi Turchi, another of Delle Chiaie's patrons, whose introduction to the White House was effected through the ubiquitous David Kennedy. Based at the Republican Party HQ in Washington, Turchi travelled the length and breadth of the United States addressing rallies, participating in debates and giving media interviews all directed at capturing the Italian vote in the United States. When Nixon was finally re-elected a reception was given at the White House at which MSI Deputy Turchi was a "guest of honour." Michael Eisenhower III, the head of Nixon's campaign executive, said to assembled journalists that the President was greatly indebted to the contribution made by the Italian deputy and that he was confident "that the contact will continue in the days to come."
According to La Strage di Stato–Controinchiesta (State Massacre–Counter Inquest) by Samona and Savelli (Rome 1970), the Italian version of Himmler's "Circle of Friends", the financial backers of the revived fortunes of the far right in Italy consisted of US interests whose funds were funnelled through the Continental Illinois and Sindona channels — the main providers being the CIA, organised crime and multinationals; Roberto Calvi's Banco Ambrosiano; Kostas Plevris, the Greek KYP agent and head of the neo-fascist "4th of August Movement"; the Assolombardo-Montedison Corporation (paid through the then MSI secretary Arturo Michelini) and the ENI-CEFIS Corporation (paid through MSI senator Gastone Nencioni). In addition, substantial sums were received from smaller industrialists, businessmen and "nostalgics"; Carlo Pesenti (Italcementi), Giovanni Borghi (Ignis), Guido Bracco (owner of a pharmaceutical firm), the Isolabella family– and numerous other lawyers, shopkeepers, big landowners and members of the Italian "noble" families.
With the re-emergence of the neo-fascist groups, the Strategy of Tension began to move into top gear. In the small southern town of Battipaglia rumours began to spread early in April 1969 of the imminent closure of the town's main source of employment, a tobacco factory. Protest meetings were held and the workers of Battipaglia called for a general strike. During the confrontations between police and strikers a nineteen year old worker was shot dead by police as was a young school teacher who had been watching events from the window of her flat. The pace of events began to quicken. On 17 April, Rome's Il Tempo, the public mouthpiece of the Strategists of Tension, said that: "…Battipaglia saw and tried out for the first time the tactics employed by the Vietcong in Saigon" and that "…the democratic state and the essence of the PCI are incompatible" and invited the ruling Christian Democrats "…to pay no heed to the sensibilities of anyone, but to act effectively in defence, including preventive action, of public order."
The government attempted to lay the blame for the carnage and excuse the behaviour and excesses of the police by referring explicitly to the existence of a "preordained plan" implemented by "provocateurs alien to the city" but the media, left to draw their own conclusions as to the identity of these provocateurs, immediately laid the blame on Maoists and anarchists. Not one of the national papers saw fit to mention the story filed by the OP news agency the day before the clashes erupted which reported that fifty known members of extremist neo-fascist organisations, in particular Delle Chiaie's organisation, Avanguardia Nazionale, had concentrated in the town during the two days prior to the proposed general strike, and which forecast that Battipaglia would be the scene of "very serious upheavals."
The sense of outrage provoked by the police action forced the Italian parliament to propose a bill which would prohibit the carrying of firearms by policemen on public order duty. The bill was due to be debated on 28 April, but before it could come up the outrages started in earnest – bombs blasted the Fiat stand at the Milan trade fair and Milan Central station.
In spite of the fact that there was no evidence as to the identity of those who had placed the bombs, their political convictions were apparently common knowledge both to the media and to the police: following a hysterical antianarchist campaign in the national press, the police officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Luigi Calabresi, and the examining magistrate, Antonio Amati, ordered the arrest of fifteen anarchists — including Giuseppe Pinelli, a Milan railway worker and founder of the Italian Anarchist Black Cross.
Although Pinelli and five other anarchists were released, it was over five months before the other main suspects were even questioned by the magistrate and, ultimately, two years before they were finally acquitted on all charges.
The Milan trade fair and railway station bombings had been carefully prepared in order to lay the blame at the door of the anarchists. The man apparently at the centre of these and certainly all the subsequent terrorist outrages until the end of 1969 was Stefano Delle Chiaie. Franco Freda and Giovanni Ventura were the two neo-Nazi secret service agents who had actually planted the bombs. Both men were closely linked with Delle Chiaie, whose name recurs in almost every investigation into subsequent outrages, although always indirectly.
From April onwards, events which are too numerous to record in detail began to recur with interesting regularity. The press, television and radio all began to talk of international anarchist plots to foment bloody revolution. The fears and uncertainties instilled in the population by this near hysterical campaign by the media in the build-up to what they described as the approaching "Hot Autumn" served only the interests of the Strategists of Tension and were intended to lead inexorably to military intervention in Italian political life. In all, 1969 saw 149 bomb attacks throughout Italy, a substantial increase on the fifty recorded over the previous four-year period.
2 June: Military parade in Rome. Rumours begin to circulate of a coup d'etat.
6 July: President Saragat provokes a split within the Italian Socialist Party, a split which is proved to have been financed by the CIA, which encourages the employers to resist new wage demands being renegotiated after three years. Rumours of a coup become more persistent.
24 July: Delle Chiaie's men Franco Freda and Giovanni Ventura organise bomb attack on the Turin Palace of Justice.
8-9 August: Ten concerted bomb attacks on trains in North Italy, again organised by Freda and Ventura, and again the Italian police and press go to great lengths to implicate the anarchists, in particular Giuseppe Pinelli. Once again Pinelli is taken in for questioning by Inspector Calabresi who considers him the chief suspect or "likely candidate."
13-14 September: In a blatant provocation, two neo-fascists vandalise the HQ of the Socialist Party in Legano, leaving anarchist slogans and "Viva Mao" daubed on the walls. The local MSI branch stresses the youths acted in "a personal capacity."
4 October: A time bomb is discovered near the door of a Trieste primary school primed to explode at midday, the time the children would have been leaving. Antonio Severi, another Delle Chiaie man, is arrested and charged with attempted massacre following the incident.
19 November: A general strike is called over poor housing conditions. In Milan, police attack a trade union rally outside the Liric Theatre. Two police jeeps crash attempting to disperse a workers' demonstration and a policeman, Annarumma, is killed. Italian fascist and extreme rightwing organisations organise a huge funeral procession for the dead policeman and threaten heavy reprisals. President Giuseppe Saragat appears on television and announces that all leftist demonstrations will be severely repressed.
28 November: 100,000 metalworkers demonstrate in Rome, not only for higher wages but also for improved housing. Throughout this period the Milan Stock Exchange is characterised by instability and frequent stock collapses. The stocks which suffer most are those of small investors which are more sensitive to alarmism.
7-8 December: A powerful bomb blast destroys the entrance hall of the Reggio Emilio police HQ, seriously injuring one police officer. The culprits are arrested in Rome two weeks later. Both of them had been members of Avanguardia Nazionale and had been among those selected by Delle Chiaie to visit Greece. Again, at the time, blame for the outrage is placed firmly on the anarchists.
11 December: The Swiss daily Journal de Geneve writes: "Highly irregular market in Milan with 3,120,000 shares changing hands. The shares which have hitherto stood up are now feeling the consequences." The discomfort and alarmism is added to by the massive movement of capital abroad, a movement which receives a great deal of publicity in the national press.
The true provenance of the bombing campaign was exposed finally on 7 December 1969 when the London Observer published the text of a secret communication from the Director General of the Greek Junta's Foreign Ministry to the Greek Ambassador in Rome.
The report, dated 15 May 1969, was accompanied by a covering letter which stated:
<blockquote> "In this report you will find it noted that the situation in Italy has much of interest to us and proves that events are moving in a direction highly favourable to the national revolution.
“His Excellency the Premier holds that the difficult exertions long undertaken by the national Hellenic government in Italy are beginning to bear fruit. The Premier has ordered me to convey to you his appreciation of the work you have carried out in this country to which you have seconded and also to ask you to persist with your activities, stepping them up so as to make best use of the possibilities which seem, according to the report, to be imminent. Finally, he has asked that I convey to you his wish that henceforth you redouble your precautions and that, in the event of any reversal you cease contact between you so that no connection may be drawn between the activities of our Italian friends and the Greek authorities…” </blockquote>
The key paragraph came under the heading "Specific Action" in the secret report: <blockquote> “(a) The actions whose implementation was scheduled for an earlier date has not been possible to effect before 20 April. The adjustment to our plans was necessitated by the fact that a contretemps made it hard to gain access to the Fiat Pavilion. The two actions have had a notable impact.” </blockquote>
At 4.37 p.m. on 12 December 1969 — the day Greece was expelled from the Council of Europe — a powerful explosion ripped through the main hall of the Banca de Agricultura in the Piazza Fontana, Milan, killing 16 people and seriously injuring a further 88. Most Italian banks closed at 4:00 p.m., but because of its proximity to and close involvement with the fruit and vegetable market this one remained open until 4:30 p.m. In the course of the next hour a further three explosions occurred at banks and prominent institutions in Rome including the Altare delle Patria.
The only clue the police had as to the identify of the bombers was an unexploded bomb found at the bottom of a lift shaft in the La Scala branch of the Commerce Bank, also in Milan, an hour after the first terrible explosion. The bomb was contained in a black simulated leather briefcase in which was a cassette tape recorder packed with explosives and a German timing device which had malfunctioned. For some as yet unexplained reason this unique piece of evidence was taken to the courtyard of the bank where it had been found and, on the direct orders of the Procurator General of the Republic himself, De Peppo, detonated without any attempt at scientific examination being made, thus destroying the one strong chance of uncovering the identity of the perpetrators of the ghastly carnage.
As with previous outrages, the blame for the Piazza Fontana bombing was immediately placed on the anarchists. Within minutes of news of the explosion being broadcast, Judge Amati, the magistrate in charge of investigating the 25 April and 8 August bombings, rang Milan police HQ to be briefed on developments. He was told that it was uncertain at that time whether or not the explosion had been caused by a faulty gas boiler or a terrorist bomb. "My money is on the outrage" was Amati's reply and he immediately urged the police to direct their attention towards investigating the anarchists. That same evening, the ubiquitous Inspector Calabresi, the officer in charge of the investigation, told a journalist from the Milan daily La Stampa that the culprits were being sought among the extreme left and that in his opinion the anarchists were responsible for all that day's outrages because they had "all the characteristics of the bombings of 25 April and the attacks on the ten trains on the night of 8-9 August that year." (1969)
One hundred and fifty anarchists were arrested over the next few days and brought to the Milan Questura (police headquarters) for questioning by teams of detectives under Calabresi. Calabresi was a rising star in the firmament of the Italian political police. Not only had he undergone training at various police academies in the United States, but he had also accompanied extreme rightwing US General Edwin A. Walker, confidant of Senator Barry Goldwater, on his trip to Italy, and in fact had effected the introduction between Walker and General De Lorenzo, a relationship which subsequently flourished.
Among the many anarchists arrested that night was Calabresi's bête noire, railway worker Giuseppe Pinelli.
Born in the working-class Porta Ticinese district of Milan in 1928, Giuseppe Pinelli had worked first as an errand boy, then as a warehouseman. He was a voracious reader and every spare moment he filled with reading to make good the gaps in the official education he had received. In 1944-5 he took part in the Resistance as a partisan courier in an anarchist group operating in Milan. Pinelli was one of the few young activists to remain a convinced anarchist when the revolutionary hopes and aspirations of the postwar era began to fade.
In 1954, he joined the railway as a fitter and the following year he married Licia; the couple had two daughters.
In 1963 Pinelli joined the young anarchists of Giuventu Libertaria ("Libertarian Youth") who were breathing new life and inspiration into the anarchist movement in Milan, but he also kept his links with the "old guard" of a previous generation. As one of the sparse "middle generation" of Italian anarchists (35 years old) he tried to ensure friendly liaison between members of the older movement and the new activists. In 1965 he was one of the founders of the "Sacco and Vanzetti" circle at Viale Murillo 1, the anarchists' first premises in Milan for more than ten years. In 1968, following the break-up of the Viale Murillo club, he helped found the Ponte della Ghisolfa circle at Piazzale Lugano 31 and later, in 1969, to open the anarchist club premises in the Via Scaldesole 5.
A dedicated militant, Pinelli played a key part in running the various circles, groups, clubs, etc., and was an active member of the Bovisa branch of the USI, the anarcho-syndicalist trades union. More importantly, perhaps, Pinelli was the moving spirit behind the Milan Branch of the Anarchist Black Cross, an international anarchist relief organisation for prisoners and victims of repression. From May 1969 onwards, following his arrest on suspicion of involvement in the Milan trade fair and railway station bombings, Pinelli devoted his time to the Anarchist Black Cross, providing assistance for the comrades arrested on false and fabricated charges and coordinating an international investigation into the activities of the neo-fascists and various intelligence agencies he knew to be responsible for the acts ascribed to himself and his comrades.
Pinelli had been with friends and neighbours in his regular bar at the time of the explosions and then gone on to the anarchist club at the Via Scaldasole when he heard news of the explosions and where he met Inspector Calabresi and Brigadier Vito Panessi who were searching the premises. The only other person present was another anarchist, Sergio Ardau. Both comrades were invited along to the Questura for a "little chat." This was approximately 6:30 p.m. Ardau was taken in the police car and Pinelli followed on his motor scooter.<fn> See Appendix C. </fn>
Three days later on 15 December at 7:00 p.m. in the evening, the last interrogation of Giuseppe Pinelli officially began. At 10:00 p.m. Calabresi rang Licia, asking her to look for her husband's rail pass recording the train journeys for which no fares need be paid. A short time later Licia Pinelli rang back to say she'd found it and at 11:00 p.m. a policeman called at the Pinelli home to collect it. At about 11:56 the anarchist Pasquale Valituttu was sitting in the corridor near the room where Pinelli was being questioned when he suddenly heard "very strange noises" coming from the room. Two minutes later, at 11:58 precisely, a call was logged requesting an ambulance at the Questura. Meanwhile, at 11:57, the Unita (Communist Party) journalist Aldo Palumbo left the press room and was walking through the central courtyard of the Police HQ when Pinelli's body plummeted to earth before his eyes. Palumbo claims that when he saw the body fall he believed it to be already lifeless — testimony which was later to be backed up by pathological evidence.
Although a number of anarchists were quickly charged with "illegal conspiracy to commit crime" and complicity in the massacre, the plans and hopes of Stefano Delle Chiaie and his shadowy manipulators, the real conspirators responsible for the tragic events of 12 December in Piazza Fontana, were foiled by the untimely death of Pinelli.
The number of people who took to the streets of Milan on 15 December to pay silent homage to the victims of the previous Friday's massacre made it clear that the Italian working class had no intention of succumbing to terror, nor had it been fooled as to the real authorship of the massacre which lay in the hands of the right — not the anarchists. On the morning of 15 December an estimated crowd of around three hundred thousand Milanese overflowed the city's Piazza Duomo to confront the challenge. Had people been confused and terrified and remained at home, the right-wing gambit might well have paid dividends, but the common sense response of the Milanese working class in coming out that morning extinguished any hopes the putschists might have left. Italian writer Camilla Cederna spoke of "that unforgettable day of pregnant gloom, of low dark snow clouds at noon, where the people's reply to the outrage came unanimous and spontaneous and anti-fascist Milan seemed to take the upper hand and the spirit of unity seemed to have been rediscovered and concord re-established."
It was a day which had echoes of 19 July 1936 when proletarian Barcelona took to the streets to resist an earlier fascist machination. Five days later, on 20 December and in spite of a climate of severe police intimidation, a cortege of three thousand people with black flags followed "Pino" Pinelli to his final resting place.
On 17 December the Italian secret service agent Stefano Serpieri, another of those who had visited Greece on the Delle Chiaie officially sponsored trip, submitted a signed report to his boss, General Federico Quirazza, head of the counter-intelligence bureau of the secret service, naming Stefano Delle Chiaie and Mario Merlino as the material authors of the outrage:
<blockquote> Mario Merlino was the author of the bombing at the [Rome] Altare delle Patria [Tomb of the Unknown Soldier], and he had received his instructions from the fascist leader Stefano Delle Chiaie who, in turn, had received his from Yves Guerin Serac, director of the Aginter Press agency in Lisbon, which also employs the services of one Robert Leroy, a French citizen, in its activities. </blockquote>
Serpieri further specified that "Merlino and Delle Chiaie, passing themselves off as anarchists, carried out bombings so that the blame for them would fall on other movements... " Robert Leroy was a veteran of the French "Charlemagne" division of the Waffen SS and a serving NATO intelligence officer (according to his Aginter dossier) with Reinhard Gehlen's BND.<fn> BND – Bundesnachrichtendienst, the Federal German intelligence service founded by Reinhard Gehlen, ex-head of the Wehrmacht intelligence organisation "Fremde Heere 0st" ("Foreign Armies East"). At the end of World War II the Pentagon absorbed his organisation in its entirety in the belief that Gehlerl had an efficient intelligence network stretching right into the Kremlin itself. As early as 1949 an informer in one of the emigre organisations used by Gehlen reckoned that about ninety per cent of all intelligence reaching the Americans was false. Walter Schellenberg, ex-head of Nazi foreign intelligence, claimed to author William Stevenson that the Gehlen organisation was primarily a channel of escape for war criminals and that it was taking in US funds on a scale that for Europe at that time was magnificent. False intelligence from the Gehlen org to the Americans was a major factor in the rise of the Cold War. Soon after the formation of NATO, which was an extension of the Bundeswehr and established West Germany as the strongest military power in that organisation next to the US, the BND became the unofficial NATO intelligence organisation. In this capacity it maintained a resident officer in the capital of every NATO country, allegedly to keep an eye on the host country's contacts with the Soviet Union. </fn> He apparently first came into contact with Delle Chiaie at an Ordine Nuovo meeting in Milan in 1965 and the two have remained friends ever since. Leroy says of his connections with Stefano Delle Chiaie that he visited him several times in Rome and that he "shared my views regarding the need to unite seemingly opposed revolutionary elements, in the manner of the Argentine Peronist Movement...."
The report by agent Serpieri was buried by Admiral Hencke, the head of the Italian secret service (SID) at the time. Hencke later lied to the magistrate investigating the links between the neo-fascists and the secret service when he stated that the SID had not investigated the outrages nor had it received any information on the subject. It was not until much later that the full details began to emerge, including the facts that Admiral Hencke personally controlled both Pino Rauti and Giovanni Ventura (and perhaps even Delle Chiaie himself).
Slowly the investigation began to concentrate more and more on the "anarchist" Mario Merlino, a recent "convert" to anarchism following his trip to Greece and one of the founders of the Rome "22nd March" anarchist group along with the genuine anarchist Pietro Valpreda.<fn> See Appendix D. </fn> It was Merlino, suspected of planting the Rome bombs, who, when arrested and questioned on the night of Friday, 12 December, changed his role from that of provocateur to that of "informer." It was due primarily to his statement to the police that the other five anarchists of the 22nd March group, including Pietro Valpreda, were charged, but his own alibi was not checked for over two months. Merlino's alibi witnesses as to his whereabouts on the afternoon of 12 December were none other than the family of Leda Minetti – Stefano Delle Chiaie's woman companion – and Stefano Delle Chiaie himself.
On 24 February 1970, investigating m
agistrate Cudillo called Stefano Delle Chiaie in for questioning for the first time and "Il Caccola" confirmed Merlino's alibi. Five months later, with growing contradictions in Merlino's statements and additional evidence pointing the finger at the neo-fascists as perpetrators of the Milan outrage, the magistrate again questioned Delle Chiaie concerning his alibi for Merlino on that fateful afternoon. Two days later, on 27 July, the magistrate issued a warrant for the arrest of Stefano Delle Chiaie on a charge of-perjury. In the meantime Delle Chiaie had gone to ground.
In November the following year, indisputable evidence against the neo-fascist and secret service authorship of the Piazza Fontana massacre emerged. A builder repairing the roof of a house in Castel Franco Veneto accidentally broke through a partition wall belonging to a socialist town councillor, Giancarlo Marchesin, and uncovered a cache of weapons and explosives – in particular ammunition boxes with NATO initials similar to those used as bomb containers in the December 1969 outrages. Marchesin claimed the weapons had been stored there by Giovanni Ventura a few days after the 12 December bombings. Before that they had been stored in the house of one Ruggero Pan, who explained to the police that after the train bombings of the summer of 1969, Ventura asked him to buy some metal boxes of the German "Jewel" brand. He explained that the wooden trunks used to contain the explosives did not have the same explosive effect as the metal ones. Pan refused to comply with Ventura's request, but the following day he noticed a metal box at Ventura's place and realised someone else had obliged in his place. Pan forgot about the incident until 13 December 1969 when the press and TV showed pictures of one of the boxes used in the attacks on the banks. It was of the "Jewel" brand, identical to the ones obtained by Freda and Ventura.
Investigating magistrates also discovered that the nerve-centre of the conspiracy was in the hall of a Padua University institute made available to them by the neo-fascist caretaker, Marco Pozzan, a close associate of Franco Freda. After lengthy interrogation by the magistrates in March 1972 Pozzan confessed that the overall plan had been given the go-ahead during a meeting in Padua on the evening of 18 April 1969. According to Pozzan both Pino Rauti, the agent of the Greek Junta in Italy, and Stefano Delle Chiaie participated in the meeting.<fn> Stefano Delle Chiaie denies participating in this meeting and alleges that Pozzan, whom he later safehoused in Madrid, told him that Franco Freda ordered him and two others to make the allegations. In an interview with Italian journalist Enzo Biagi in January 1983 Delle Chiaie said: "I understood why (the allegations were made) during the Catanzaro trial [the trial of those charged with the 12 December 1969 outrage], when Ventura too did his damndest to implicate me by claiming that I had participated in that celebrated meeting in Padua, when I never went to it at all Because it was Giannettini who participated in the meeting, not I nor Pino Rauti.... In the end, as far as the Piazza Fontana case was concerned, out went Pozzan, Giannettini and La Bruna and in I came. Well, that strikes me as a second sort of outrage. It strikes me that there is still this determination to save those truly responsible for the Piazza Fontana butchery and to heap the vile responsibility for it upon my shoulders and the shoulders of others who had nothing to do with those outrages." </fn>
Warrants for the arrest of Franco Freda, Giovanni Ventura<fn> During a search carried out in one of the addresses used by Giovanni Ventura, investigators discovered some confidential reports in a chest "...referring to the American, Soviet, French, German and Romanian intelligence services and their activities..." In his defence Ventura explained to the magistrates that he was working for a mysterious international intelligence agency.
Unlike Franco Freda, who openly admitted his neo-Nazi ideas, Ventura insisted as passing himself off as a man of the left. He claims to have infiltrated a fascist group led by Freda for the purpose of monitoring its activities on behalf of this mysterious service which, he alleged, was "...close to the Gaullist left and certain European leftist circles advocating a third force against Soviet-American bi-polarity." According to Ventura his contacts were two journalists whom he eventually named as Jean Parvulesco, a Romanian fascist living in exile in Paris where he worked for the Spanish and French security services, and Guido Giannettini.
Franco Freda was additionally charged with having purchased the detonators used in the Milan bombing. He claims to have purchased them on behalf of a non-existent Captain Hamid of the Algerian secret service who wanted them for use in anti-lsrael action. </fn> and Pino Rauti were issued and Marco Pozzan was released as a minor accessory and then vanished.
On 3 March 1972, the last day of the abortive trial of the anarchist Pietro Valpreda in connection with the Piazza Fontana bombings, Freda, Ventura and Pino Rauti were arrested with seven other fascists. All were charged with having organised the outrages of 25 April at the Milan Trade Fair and Milan railway station as well as the train bombings of August that same year. Three weeks later, on 21 March 1972, the 12 December 1969 outrages were added to the list of charges. On 13 July 1972 all the neo-fascist suspects were released on bail and both Freda and Ventura were spirited out of Europe by SID captain Antonio La Bruna who travelled to Spain where he made the necessary arrangements with Stefano Delle Chiaie in Barcelona in November 1972.
For four and a half months the whereabouts of Delle Chiaie were to remain a mystery, until the night of 7-8 December 1970, the anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbour in 1941. Then the 'Black Prince' Junio Valerio Borghese, ex-commander of Mussolini's Decima MAS (Tenth Light Flotilla) and responsible for a murderous anti-partisan campaign under Mussolini's Salo Republic, gave the order to proceed with the final stages of an attempted coup codenamed "Tora, Tora" (the Japanese callsign).
At 11:15 that evening, Stefano Delle Chiaie, commanding 50 neo-nazis, occupied the buildings of the Interior Ministry in Rome. They had gained entrance that morning disguised as workmen and had lain low until Borghese gave the final go-ahead for the coup. (This information comes from a statement given by Delle Chiaie to Michael Vernon Townley, a Chilean secret service agent, quoted in Assassination on Embassy Row by John Dinges and Saul Landau, Writers and Readers, London 1980.)
However, at the very last moment the coup was called off. A few minutes before 1.00 a.m. on the 8th, Borghese received a mysterious telephone call. The identity of the caller is not known, but the name of General Micelli, successor to Admiral Hencke as head of the secret service and commander of the "Rose of the Winds" organisation, has been mentioned repeatedly in this connection (see for example L'Orchestre Noir by Frederic Laurent, Stock, Paris 1978). What was said during the short conversation was also unknown but speculation has it that Miceli, who was allegedly involved in the shady background of the plot, realised at the last moment that Borghese and his men were being set up by other more powerful factions among the plotters, and decided to warn his friend and advise him to pull out.<fn> See appendix E. </fn>
Frustrated and angry at the decision to abandon the coup, Stefano Delle Chiaie wanted to press on with it regardless, but his men had already begun to desert him and make their escape from the buildings. In the same deposition, Townley stated that Stefano Delle Chiaie had recounted to him the events of that night when they waited for the uprising which never took place. Delle Chiaie told him in conversation that when they eventually left early in the morning the fascists took with them 180 machine-guns from the armoury. He also boasted to Townley that since that night he had become one of the top ten or fifteen most important leaders of the right-wing terrorist offensive in Italy.
News of the Borghese coup attempt was hushed up by the Italian secret service for almost three months but eventually an informer broke the story to the press. Forewarned, as usual, both Borghese and Delle Chiaie fled to Spain, then still firmly under fascist rule. They were quickly followed there by more than 100 Italian neo-fascists implicated in the terrorist outrages which they had attempted to blame on the anarchists and which they hoped would have led them to power in a "New Order." Some of these Nazi terrorists escaped with the assistance of the Italian security services who had used them for their own particular ends – possibly a presidential, Gaullist-type coup – and now had to keep them out of the way to ensure their own complicity remained hidden. The secret service officer responsible for organising the escape networks and liaison with the neo-fascists was the SID Captain Antonio La Bruna, who later helped Freda and Ventura to escape and later still was exposed as a member of 'P2'masonic lodge.