Il Messaggero - Romanzo Criminale TV - Corleone TV - Political Asssassinations: Death in Rome TV - History of War online
Trial underway, Red Brigades threaten the jury. Il Messaggero headline, cited Romanzo Criminale
President of the Lawyers’ Association killed by the Red Brigades. Romanzo Criminale s1e1, radio news, Sky 2008
The Honourable Moro had just left his home on his way to Parliament, to give his vote of confidence to the new Andreotti Government, when he was blocked by a gang of terrorists, presumably members of the Red Brigade. Romanzo Criminale s1e4, radio news
The sixth communique from the RB is a spine-chilling announcement. The terrorists claim the interrogation is now over, and that Aldo Moro is to be sentenced to death. Romanzo Criminale s1e5, news report
The only true Catholics in Italy are the Red Brigades. Romanzo Criminale s1e6, chief rozzer
The body of the Honourable Aldo Moro has been found in Via Caetani in Rome in the boot of a red Renault 4. The discovery was made after a phone call from the Red Brigades. ibid. radio news
The Red Brigades have claimed responsibility for the kidnap of Aldo Moro. Corleone VI, television news, Sky Arts 2013
Rome May 9th 1978: in the city centre police discover a Renault 4. Inside is the body of Aldo Moro the president of Italy’s Christian Democrat Party. An infamous crime had been committed against a high profile politician. A man who wanted to overcome a barrier in Italian society and share power with the Communist Party. The murder of Aldo Moro bore the signature of the extreme Left, the Red Brigades. But many wondered if the extreme right had not guided the murder weapon so as to block a political initiative which had begun inauspiciously six weeks earlier. Political Assassinations: Death in Rome: The Case of Aldo Moro
The head of the Lodge [P2] Licio Gelli was a militant anti-communist with long-standing links to the CIA. He was also one of Aldo Moro’s bitterest enemies. Moro wanted to fight this terror campaign by means of a broad alliance which would also bring the communists into the fold ... The shots were fired ... Gelli, head of the P2 lodge and working for the secret service, is reported to have said just afterwards, The hardest part has been done. ibid.
The next morning at 8:30 a radio station broadcast the news that Aldo Moro had been kidnapped half an hour before it actually happened. And the secret services also knew something. ibid.
Moro knew there would be strong opposition to his policy. But he could see no alternative to closer relations with the communists. The Communist Party had become the second most powerful political force in the country. It was demanding indispensable social reforms, and to do so was looking for closer links with the Christian Democrats under Aldo Moro. But those opposed to this strategy did not remain inactive. ibid.
They didn’t even respect the murdered man’s last wishes. In a pompous state ceremony they displayed their grief for the man they did not wish to save. ibid.
The Red Brigades was a Marxist-Leninist left wing terrorist group active in Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s. Known as ‘Brigate Rosse’ in Italian and sometimes shortened to BR, their main aim was to force Italy to leave the NATO alliance. They are most famous for the kidnap and murder of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. During their long history of political and at times somewhat random violence they carried out approximately 14,000 acts of violence.
As with many Cold War European terrorist groups they were founded by radical students, in the case of the Red Brigades by Renato Curcio, Alberto Franceschini and Mara Cagol in 1970. In the beginning there were two main groups, that of the Trento Group with strong ties to the sociology Department of a catholic university and the Reggio Emilia group headed by Franceschini which recruited mainly from the Communist youth movement. At first the groups’ areas of operations were around the University and in the industrial factories of Milan, both areas a rich source of recruits. Operations were fairly low level, mainly factory sabotage and burglary but did include a brief kidnapping in 1972. This was about to change when the Red Brigades began to get direct aid for the Soviet block via Czechoslovakia. By 1974 the Red Brigades had committed their first murder and become a totally covert terrorist organisation, although an earlier lethal petrol bombing was mistaken blamed on the Red Brigade.
In September 1974 an Italian secret service agent infiltrated the organisation and his information lead to the arrest of Curcio and Franceschini who were both sentenced to 18 years. Curcio was briefly rescued but soon re captured. Kidnapping now became the organisation’s modus operandi with the taking of several industrialists and politicians, mainly to gain ransom money to fund the organisation. The organisation was supported during its heyday by Soviet small arms and explosives provided by Czechoslovakia often via the PLO and smuggling routes for heroin, as well as training for members in Syrian camps and in Prague. This support lead to friction between the Italian communist party and the KGB who refused to cut off support to the Red Brigades. As the Brigades became more radical and violent they also expanded into other regions of Italy striking against big industry and corporations. In 1975 a police attempt to rescue a hostage lead to a violent gun battle which left two police officers and Mara Cagol dead. This led to a campaign against Police and magistrates especially those who had been involved in the conviction of Red Brigade members.
The most famous crime committed by the Red Brigades was in 1978, when they kidnapped and 56 days later murdered the politician Aldo Moro. The attack was well organised with members using stolen Alitalia plane company uniforms, and carrying out an ambush which left five of Moro’s bodyguards dead and him a prisoner of the Red Brigade. The Brigade wanted a semi official status as ‘insurgents’ but the Government refused to negotiate despite various pleading letters from Moro to his family , friends and even the Pope. The terrorists started to fear discovery and had lost faith with the chance of getting what they wanted so shot Moro more than ten times and as a final insult to the police dumped his body in a car near the Christian Democratic Party headquarters in Rome, despite the city being under tight surveillance. The murder was counter productive, Aldo Moro had been a popular figure to people from both ends of the political spectrum, and the Italian left wing condemned the murder as did some of the imprisoned Brigade leaders. A further blow to the Brigade’s popularity came in 1979 when they shot and killed Guido Rossa, a popular trade Union official who had reported Brigade members for distributing propaganda. This killing lost the organisation much of the support from the factory workers.
On the back of this loss in support the police made large inroads against the organisation arresting thousands of activists and forcing many others to flee to France or South America. Many those captured turned evidence and provided information to help capture other members in order to reduce their own prison sentences. Despite this decline in influence the Red Brigades were far from finished – on December 17th 1981 a small group kidnapped US Army Brigadier General Dozier who was at that time Deputy Chief of Staff for NATO Southern Land forces. 42 days later the General was rescued by Italian Special Forces from the apartment where he was being held. Despite this alarming swansong the organisation was in its death throes and in 1984 it split into two factions and many of its former leaders renounced the idea of armed struggle while the support from the Soviet Block dried up.
Isolated killings continued with the murders of the US Sinai Multinational Force commander Leamon Hunt in 1984, the ex-mayor of Florence Lando Conti in February 1986, General Licio Giorgieri in 1987, and Senator Roberto Ruffilli in 1988. Police operations in response led to many arrests and the Red Brigades had virtually ceased to exist as a meaningful entity by the end of 1988. A remnant of the group still exists, possibly a new group with very little connection to the old Red Brigades. It briefly resurfaced in the 1990s and early 2000s murdering several government advisors and some police in gunfights. On October 23rd 2003 police raids in several areas of Italy, including Rome and Sardinia led to the arrest of several members of this group, four of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2005. It is possible other isolated cells remain and the Red Brigades were certainly a long time in dying even after Soviet support was cut off at the end of the Cold War, but any threat they still pose is more one of criminal activity than any meaningful political action. History of War online article