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Government report on the bomb attacks on H.E. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, and on the situation of the fight against terrorism

Chamber of Deputies

Standing Committee on Constitutional, Prime Minister's  and Home Affairs

Government report on the bomb attacks on H.E. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, and on the situation of the fight against terrorism 

Report of the Minister of the Interior
Hon. Giuseppe Pisanu

8th January, 2004

Mr. Chairman, distinguished Colleagues,

Today for the third time I am appearing before this Committee to report on the latest terrorist events.

During our last meeting, on 4th November, 2003 we were informed of the bomb attack on the Carabinieri barracks located in Rome, at Via San Silicio, which caused serious injuries to Sgt.Maj. Stefano Sindona.

As I later explained in the Chamber of Deputies, the attack was clearly linked to the pro-insurrection anarchist movement, and it was similar to the ones that the previous month had been made on the Ministry of Labour, the Regional Administration of Sardinia, the Carabinieri station in Stampace-Cagliari and the police headquarters in Rome.

On that occasion, I closed my report vigorously pointing out the criminal potentiality of the anarchist movement and hinting to the fact that it could be hoping to profit from the disarray in the left-wing guerrilla group Red Brigades to take on a leading role in the Italian terrorism.

The Christmas bomb attacks in Bologna and the long series of booby-trapped parcels which were sent from Bologna to various leaders of European institutions make me feel compelled to review that analysis- which I will do later, after having given you the details of each event occurred.


On 27th December, 2003, while Professor Romano Prodi was examining his mail in his home in Bologna, he opened a parcel which burst into flames and, luckily, he escaped unharmed.

The addressee of the parcel was Mrs. Flavia Franzoni, Prof. Prodi's wife, and the fictitious sender was: Centro Studi Dozza, piazza Maggiore nr. 3, 40100 Bologna. The postmark was "Bologna CMP- 22.12.03". The experts' evaluation showed that the parcel could have been sent in the time-span between 6.00 p.m. of December 21st and the afternoon of the day after.

According to the first experts' checks, it was an incendiary device, therefore it could not explode. It was contained in a book and was made up of a clothes-peg, black powder, a flash for photo-camera and a 9-volt battery.

Sending incendiary or explosive parcels is typical of the pro-insurrection anarchist movement which - as I recalled before - has used this method even in recent times. Even the false sender's name leads to this anarchic milieu. "Dozza" is, in fact, the name of the Bologna prison where the anarchist Horst Fantazzini- convicted of bank robbery- was detained and died on 24th December, 2001.

There is also a third element linking the event to the pro-insurrection anarchist movement, i.e. another attack on Prof. Prodi, made using the method that is typical of anarchist violence.

I am referring to the two explosive devices which blasted in the evening of the 21st December, 2003 and were concealed inside two garbage bins, one next to the other and located at about 80 metres from the President of the European Commission's home. The first explosion occurred at 9.55 p.m. and the second an hour later. Luckily, this time too, without causing injuries to anybody. The two explosive devices were unsophisticated, made up of two camping butane gas-cylinders, triggered by a timer, placed inside pressure cookers.

It is well-known that the method of the pressure cooker and that of the double explosion have been used by pro-insurrection anarchists for other attacks and it is part and parcel of a wider subversive strategy to hit the law enforcement community.

Back in 2001, on 18th July, a very powerful explosive device was intercepted - and later defused . It was hidden in a small boot placed on a bicycle parked in Via dei Terribilia in Bologna. In that case, the police were informed , by anonymous letter, of a large quantity of narcotic drugs concealed inside that bicycle boot. The action was claimed by "Cooperativa Artigiana Fuoco e Affini (Occasionalmente Spettacolare)".

A year and a half later, in the night of 9th  December 2002, two explosive devices went off, 10 minutes one from the other, in the vicinity of the police headquarters in Genoa. They had been placed inside two garbage cans.  The short time between the first and the second explosion lead us to believe that the attack was no show and, on the contrary, it was meant to deliberately harm, and even kill,  the police staff called to the scene after the first blast. The action was claimed by Brigata XX luglio.

For the sake of completeness of information, I must recall that in the early hours of the 24th December, 2003, unidentified persons hurled a porphyry cube , wrapped as a present, at the glass window of the Feltrinelli book-shop in Bologna, where the latest book written by Romano Prodi was on display.

The package contained some sheets written partly in Hungarian and partly in broken Italian, deliriously accusing the European Commission President  for "hiding the claims for compensation concerning the people who died in Africa and in Iraq".

The text also contained the name of a Hungarian national , who had been reported to the police for throwing a stone at the main entrance door of the U.S. Consulate in Milan. On that occasion, a leaflet was found on the foreigner where it was written: "Merry Christmas. Signed: Iraq and Africa".

Released when his cautionary custody terms expired, the Hungarian national was told to report to the police headquarters on a regular basis. But he disappeared.  The police started the procedures to track him down, although he seems not to be connected to any subversive group.


The double explosions occurred on 21st December, 2003 were claimed with two leaflets sent, two days later by first-class mail, to the local office of the daily "La Repubblica". The postmark was "Bologna CMP 22.12.2003". The first message, entitled "Who we are�an open letter to the anarchist and anti authoritarian movement" is a strategic-programmatic document listing the objectives of the new-born "Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI)", which intentionally reproduces the historical acronym of the anarchic movement, Federazione Anarchica Italiana.

FAI is composed of "action groups and individuals" and it was created "in order to overcome the limits of single projects and to test the real potentialities of an informal organisation".

The writers state that they have chosen the federal and  pattern because it is the only one that can grant a wide-spread horizontal presence all over the territory without any decision-making centre and, therefore, it is consistent with the anarchist ideology.

According to their point of view, the "Federation" is anarchist since its aim is "the destruction of the State and capital" and it is "informal" because it has no bureaucratising authoritarian mechanisms. Hence, it can guarantee the independence of its groups and individuals flanking them.

The members of this Federation claim to be "against any Marxist cancer" and advocate a type of armed struggle based on direct actions by individuals or groups. They are inspired by "three key points":

1. Revolutionary solidarity, which entails armed struggle against facilities and persons responsible for the detention of comrades;
2. Revolutionary campaigns, which can be freely promoted and shared "through one or more actions claimed by single action groups, which make a reference to the Federation in their acronym";
3. "Communication among groups or single members" that should take place "through the  actions and the information channels of the movement with no need to know one another".

At the foot of the document, there are the acronyms of four well-known pro-insurrection anarchist groups, each one preceded by the acronym "F.A.I.".They are: "Cooperativa Artigiana Fuochi e Affini (Occasionalmente Spettacolare)", "Brigata XX luglio", "Cellule contro il Capitale, il Carcere, I suoi Carcerieri e le sue Celle" and "Solidarietà Internazionale".

In the second document,  which is similar to the first one as to writing and is entitled "Operation Santa Claus" , F.A.I. informs of the beginning of the "first fighting campaign of the Informal Anarchist Federation" and presents it as an active criticism of "the semester of Italian Presidency of the European Union which is about to end, being aware that, beyond the official rhetoric, the decisions ratified in recent months will bring about exploitation and dominance".

Terrorist actions must hit "the apparatus of control and suppression and the main characters on the democratic show, which will be the key representatives and main institutions of the new European order, by using "techniques, timing and methods aiming at avoiding that innocent people are injured"

This is one of the fundamental rules of the pro-insurrection anarchist strategy: to attack the different segments of the State "control and suppression bodies", first of all prisons and law enforcement.

Then follows a part written with a lettering stencil, signed "FAI/Cooperativa Artigiani Fuoco e Affini (Occasionalmente  Spettacolare)",  where they claim responsibility for the Bologna incidents  and threaten President Prodi "so that he knows that the manoeuvres have only begun to get close to him and to other people like him".

The leaflet ends with a reference to well-known active anarchists who have died, amongst whom is the already-mentioned Horst Fantazzini.

On 29th December, 2003 an identical claim was received at the Milan office of  the daily "Libero", by first-class mail, postmark "Bologna CMP 22.12.03".  The only difference was that the final part , written using a stencil and concerning President Prodi, was missing.


I will now go on to report on the booby-trapped parcels delivered to other key representatives of European institutions just before the end of last year.

On 29th December 2003, a booby-trapped package, addressed to Mr. Storbeck, EUROPOL Director, was received at the EUROPOL Headquarters in The Hague.  

The sender was a "E.Henry - Via Milano 85- - Bologna" which may be referring to a 19th  century French anarchist.

On the same day, the President of the European Central Bank received a parcel with a book concealing a device consisting of blasting powder, a 9-volt battery and a camera flash.

The sender was "Soc. Editrice Europea - Via Terribilia- Bologna, Italia - postmark dated 24th December, 2003. The address of the sender is the same  of the 18th July, 2001 incident - which I have already mentioned.

Inside both parcels was a leaflet claiming responsibility , signed  "Informal Anarchist Federation" and titled " Operation Santa Claus". The leaflet is identical to the second document delivered to the Milan editorial office of the daily "Libero", the one which was lacking the final part written using a stencil.

On 30th December, 2003, another letter bomb was sent to EUROJUST Headquarters in The Hague. In this case too, the package was dispatched from Bologna. No one of the three packages exploded.

Finally, on 5th January three more packages were received by representatives in the European Parliament: Mr. Hans Gert Pottering, Leader of the European Popular Party, Mr. José Ignacio Salafranca, his deputy and by Mr. Gary Titley, a British Labour Party MEP.

Given the latest incidents, it is absolutely obvious that European Institutions and their representatives are amongst the targets of pro-insurrection anarchists, together with prisons, banks, courts, military barracks and anything that can fall within the scope of "social struggle against the State and capital" and against "the exploitation of men by other men and of nature by men".

On the other hand, these attacks confirm that important elements of the anarchist movement are increasing the level of their terrorist action and are moving according to a co-ordinated and pre-arranged strategy, with special care for the different stages and the selection of targets.

In fact, if it is true that there is a substantial rejection of the "militarist" organisational choices, typical of the Red Brigades, it is equally obvious that today there is an inclination to dismiss the old "spontaneistic" cliché  in order to target operations with real campaigns on a regular basis.

The lack of a leadership structure, should not lead us to think that pro-insurrection anarchists are operating alone, acting on impulse. On the contrary, they are acting more and more according to concerted strategies , by using tools based on wide-spread "manuals", known also through computers and the web. In a nutshell, there is a single framework with a "unicum sentire" which is the real ideological foundation of an illegal armed band, of a real subversive association.


Mr. Chairman,

On 11th November, 2003 I reported exhaustively to the Chamber of Deputies on the development of the pro-insurrection anarchist movement in the past 15 years and on the attacks perpetrated by it. I can provide you with the documents related to these aspects, if the Committee deems it necessary. It is a voluminous and up-dated dossier.

Now I'd like to report on the countering activities carried out by security agencies.

The peculiar ways of launching attacks that can be led to anarchist groups, as well as the autonomous behaviour characterising subversive individuals, make it difficult to take pre-emptive actions, which are mainly based on surveillance and analysis.

The in-depth examination of the modus operandi of pro-insurrection anarchist groups has certainly allowed us to recognise this phenomenon, to identify the main reference milieu and to classify the various procedures followed in an attack.

As regards the specific case I'm talking about, it is to be recalled that as of last 27th October the protection of President Prodi has been reinforced. Before that date, the security measures adopted to protect Mr. Prodi were: armoured car and around-the-clock police surveillance of his house during the period of his staying in Bologna. Later on, such protective measures have been enhanced through the provision of an armed escort service on a second car.

This decision was made after a joint evaluation of various leads showing that European institutions and their representatives could be potential targets of subversive movements. Among the above-mentioned leads, particular importance was attached to the emergence of "Europposizione", a composite group including both pro-insurrection anarchists and different fringes of extremist opposition.

I'd like to underline that after the double explosion of last 21st December, the around-the-clock police surveillance of Mr. Prodi's home was made continuative and adequate protection measures have been taken also for his wife Flavia, and their children residing in Bologna. In the same period, Belgian police authorities were contacted with the aim of adopting adequate protective measures in favour of Mr. Prodi during his stay in that Country.

More generally speaking, I wish to recall that the protection system concerning personalities at risk has been enhanced thanks to the setting up of the Ufficio Centrale Interforze per la Sicurezza Personale, operating within the Public Security Department. The new structure has re-organised and streamlined surveillance services, by enhancing their effectiveness, also through the exchange of information between all the Authorities concerned.

At present, the persons protected by means of various types of protection, different in level and intensity, are 734 and, to this end, 2,859 law enforcement agents are employed every day.

Anyway, after the above-mentioned incidents, a critical review of protection mechanisms emphasised the need to adopt new techniques to timely adjust the intervention forms to the evolution of subversive threat; in particular, such a review showed poor control of the mail.

Actually, our Country already has a security system for the gathering, sorting out and delivery of correspondence addressed to certain targets at high risk: in these days, we have taken urgent measures in order to enhance and improve such a system.

Now it is necessary to start structural changes to enlarge, strengthen and optimise the existing system. That gives rise to some important problems - which are being analysed - as regards operation costs, the time allowed for mail delivery and the safeguarding of the constitutional right to correspondence privacy and freedom.

After this brief explanation, once we have recognised the present inadequacy of mail controls, it is to be objectively noted that the increasing risk run by President Prodi was immediately perceived and adequately coped with.

Also the measures taken after the incident turned out to be effective.

Therefore, there was no underestimation.  And I am making no polemic reference to any comment made to this regard. I know very well - as I already stated other times - that the story of terrorism is often the story of a tragic underestimation of the threat.

* * * * *

As far as investigation activities are concerned, I can assure you that the investigation on the recent terrorist incidents is being followed with the greatest attention by the Bologna judges as well as by criminal police, which started specific and complex investigations aimed at identifying the offenders.

As regards, more generally, the phenomenon of pro-insurrection anarchic movement, special investigation teams have been purposely created. These teams work round-the-clock in the territory, with the co-ordination of the central counter-terrorism structures.

At the Direzione Centrale della Polizia di Prevenzione of the Public Security Department, a Comitato di Analisi Strategica Antiterrorismo is operative, with direction and co-ordination functions. The Committee is composed of high-level experts from the State Police, the Carabinieri Corps and SISDE. This restricted working group gathers all the information coming from local bureaus and up-dates the general framework of the composite subversive and terrorist milieu.

At the international level, some days ago the Chief of Police - on my assignment - held a meeting with the highest Authorities responsible for counter-terrorism of Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium. The meeting was also attended by EUROPOL Deputy Director and - as an observer - by a EUROJUST representative.

During the meeting, the participants examined all the terrorist actions that - for the modus operandi, for the responsibility claimed or for the results of investigations - can lead to the phenomenon of a European pro-insurrection anarchist movement.

At the end of the meeting, the Italian proposal to immediately set up an analysis group was accepted. This group will be composed of experts from participating Countries and a EUROPOL representative.

The group, which will be led by Italy, has the task of monitoring, within  two months, the phenomenon of the pro-insurrection anarchist movement in all its forms, by establishing existing connections between the various criminal incidents, the suspects and the modus operandi.

Later on, the most interesting elements produced by the work of the analysis group can be used by the different police authorities that will continue their investigations in full respect of their national legal systems. In its turn, EUROPOL shall guarantee the exchange of information, by sending data, as soon as they are gathered, to the other Member States which might be concerned in the future.

At this point, I do wish to emphasise the importance of such an agreement, also because it originates from the decisions adopted by the Task Force of Police Chiefs last October, upon the proposal of the Italian Presidency of the European Union.

Moreover, I shall add that - at the national level - the adoption of new specific laws could be useful and advisable, as recently suggested by eminent representatives of the judiciary.

However, I wish to underline that it could be a limited package of measures which, far from having the characteristics of an urgent legislation - and therefore without negative repercussions on the fundamental rights of citizens - may contribute to improve the whole system of terrorism countering activities, by adjusting the operational, investigative and prosecution instruments to the complex and diversified dynamics of subversive and terrorist movements.

* * * * *

Mr. Chairman, distinguished Colleagues,

on 11th November of the last year, concluding my report to the Chamber of Deputies, I insisted on the important threat posed by the Italian pro-insurrection anarchist movement. In that context, I mentioned the widespread presence, all over the national territory, of its numerous activists, the broad milieux of support and complicity it enjoys, the steady international links it has and, finally, the different political and ideological paraphernalia allowing it to meet the requirements of extremist protest and political violence.

I do confirm this evaluation, as well as the consequences we envisaged on that occasion and were later confirmed by facts. Anyway, I hope that the enormous sensation made by mass media after the last pro-insurrection anarchist attacks will not divert our attention from another persistent terrorist threat, i.e. the one posed by the Red Brigades.

Certainly, from the tragic clash in Arezzo up to nowadays, the Red Bridages - Combating Communist Party of the Tuscany-Latium axis, have suffered and are still suffering hard blows, which have drastically reduced their capacity of action and - at least - are compelling them to make a new strategic withdrawal.

We are fully aware that from the old industrial triangle Genoa-Milan-Turin up to all the North-Eastern area, an extremely localised subversive group is arising, composed of significant elements, mixed with in the labour milieu and with certain social and cultural environments. They can exert an important political influence on these people and they can find consensus and support also for the perpetration of extremely serious terrorist actions.

In this context, with a long and clear document dated 22nd October 2003, the "Red Brigades-Metropolitan Guerrilla for the setting up of the Combating e Anti-imperialist Front" were born. This group originates from the evolution of the NTA - Nuclei Territoriali Antimperialisti operating in the North-Eastern area, which - as I already reported to the  Parliament, - had been following the path of the Red Brigades for long time. Now there is a new element: the name chosen clearly refers to the metropolitan guerrilla, while their programme expands the Red Brigades' traditional horizon, by taking on, inter alia, three commitments:
- "to enhance and develop alliances in the big cities and in the outskirts, in order to build and express the Combating Anti-imperialist Front";
- "to fight the European cohesion that strengthens the imperialist middle classes";
- "to attack the anti-proletarian and counter-revolutionary project of the State, which stems from the new corporation and reform plan of its institutions". It is a clear hint to the, so-to-speak, Biagi's reform and to the political effects it has had.

The last slogan of the programme encourages, through a simply but eloquent formula, to "combat together". But together with whom?

If all this is not a clear invitation to the anarcho- insurrectionalist and to the whole galaxy of the extremist antagonism, nonetheless it is a way of offering a common ground to reach a political, programmatic and operational consensus.

In the light of this prospect, FAI's steering away from what they define as  "Marxist cancer" seem to be quite weak or merely rhetorical.

In any case, it is to be noticed that, in their evolution, the different terrorist groups tend to identify common grounds for their struggle and to set common objectives. That clearly emerges when we compare the documents and the facts I mentioned in my report. That is confirmed by the currently consolidated experience of Sardinian terrorism, which is by no means isolated: on the contrary, it is connected with other national and European networks, as well as to the hardliners of the Red Brigades who are serving a term in prison. Moreover, that is also suggested by the finding, in the hide-out of the Red Brigades recently discovered, of 100 kilograms of explosives. In the past, this kind of material was not used by the Red Brigades as a rule. Maybe it was stocked there to be used by flanking supporters, whose inspiring reading material might have been the "Handbook of the anarchic bomb attacker" and the more recent publication entitled "One thousand ways to sabotage this world : choose your own".

It might be useful to have photocopies of the said material.

Of course, I don't think that these developments are over and I don't want to make generalisations on the matter. However, the changes in progress in the Italian terrorism and the terrorist movements across the national border must be followed carefully and judiciously, without wasting time with old interpretations dating back to 25/30 years ago.

It is necessary to examine in-depth and to understand fully what is happening, if we are to prevent and counter the terrorist threat effectively.

To this end, Police forces, Carabinieri and Intelligence Agencies - upon my specific request - are actively co-operating, as never before,  with the aim of building an inter-force operational capacity bound to last.

Besides, eminent representatives of the parliamentary majority coalition, as well as of the opposition - I shall say, a comforting bi-partisan novelty- have openly supported the fact that in the hoped-for reform of the intelligence agencies, momentum should be given to the security integrated system, so that the intelligence community- though maintaining a clear-cut distinction between SISMI and SISDE - may contribute ever more to the effectiveness of the prevention and suppression action of the Police forces.

I think that we should pursue this approach swiftly.

Distinguished Colleagues, finally I'd like to tell you that, in spite of the successful results obtained against the Red Brigades and without emphasising too much the serious events that happened recently, there are numerous elements which today contribute to the general increase in the national terrorist threat. At the moment, such a threat is not unitary. Yet, in all its aspects, it aims at mixing with the already bitter political and social struggle, with the deliberate purpose of changing its democratic nature.

If it is not possible to mitigate the general trend of said clashes in our Country, at least it must be possible to reach a real, effective unity of the political and social forces against terrorism, subversion and every form of political violence.

 As regards this approach, I do hope to reach - once again - the broadest consensus here in Parliament.