Investigate MI6 link with fascist terror
BOLOGNA, August 2 1980. Bomb at railway station killed 82 people.
BRITISH intelligence was involved in plotting a right-wing coup d'etat in Italy. The British and US governments considered the plan in order to forestall the possibility of the Communist Party being elected to government.
This has been unearthed by an Italian researcher going through British Foreign Office papers released under the thirty years rule. It must raise questions about whether the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, was involved along with the CIA in the "strategy of tension" pursued by Italian fascists for a number of years,under which bombings in public places
killing innocent civilians were aimed at terrorising people into acceptance of "strong government", that is, military dictatorship.
In 1976 the Cold War was raging, Henry Kissinger was US Secretary of State, and Europe already had an example of how democracy could be brutally torn away, in the Greek colonel's coup, which had been carried out according to a NATO contingency plan.
After 30 years ruled by the corrupt Christian Democrat party (DC), Italians were looking for change, and the Partito Comunista Italiana (PCI), which was the main party of the Italian workers movement just as Labour held sway in Britain, seemed best-placed to win people's confidence. Led by Enrico Berlinguer, it was also the most moderate of Europe's Communist Parties, moving towards reformism. But that did not
persuade the US State Department to accept it, nor apparently the British Foreign Office.
With elections due on June 20, 1976, and the possibility that the Communists would take first place and be able to form a coalition government, Kissinger expressed concern that having a Communist Party in office would break up NATO. It seems he was not the only one.
A secret Foreign Office memo dated 6 May 1976, entitled Italy And The Communists: Options For The West, floated one possible course of action as "action in support of a coup d'etat or other subversive action". The authors admitted: "By its nature, a coup d'etat could lead to unpredictable developments." But they added that, in theory at least, "it could be promoted. In one way or another, the force of the right could be counted on, with the support of the police and the army". The idea of a coup to remove the PCI or stop it coming to power "could be considered attractive" – but the idea was rejected as "unrealistic".
In the event the PCI came second in the elections, gaining 43.3 per cent of the vote, against the Christian Democrats' s 38.7 per cent.
How Britain plotted coup d'état to topple Italy's Communists
By Peter Popham in Rome. Independent 14 January 2008
But the "strategy of tension", already begun by fascists and elements within the Italian security(!) establishment before this, did not cease, but escalated. In probably the worst incident, 82 people were killed by a bomb in a railway station waiting room at Bologna.
Several of the fascists whom Italian authorities were investigating were able to take refuge in Britain, and successive Home Secretaries always dragged their feet over requests for extradition.
In the most notorious cases, Alessandro Alibrandi surfaced at meetings of the League of St.George, a British far-Right organisation, before returning secretly to Italy where he was killed in a gun battle with police; Roberto Fiore remained in Britain for many years, working with British fascists, and setting up right-wing charities and businesses before returning to Italy where he is active in fascist politics again. Italian investigators reportedly ascertained that Fiore enjoyed protection in return for providing MI6 with information obtained while he was with the Falange in Lebanon.
(Terror Fugitive is MI6 Messenger Boy, Searchlight, June 1989 )
Besides the armed wing of the Italian fascists, Britain has also helped the more "respectable' fascist leaders. Gianfranco Fini was invited to lecture at Chatham House in 1995, and by 2002 he was able to meet Labour's John Prescott as a minister. But then Labour was in office ion 1976 when the right-wing coup plot was considered. Harold Wilson might have considered whether the same plotters were working against him.
It is worth remembering that Wilson's Labour government had also been in office when MI6 combined with the CIA to prepare the Indonesian military coup, which brought the massacre of
up to a million "communists".
Elected governments come and go, but the secret government continues. What needs to be investigated is just how strong the links have been between Britain's intelligence services and the far-Right forces in Italy and the rest of Europe.