The strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) in any language, even as reported by Wikipedia in an article dotted with claims for documentation that appear to be distractions, is a tactic that aims to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateur, and false flag terrorist actions. Sound like today’s news? It’s not. But it does have an inglorious tradition that goes back to the CIA-supported, neofascist movement, Operation Gladio, post World War II.
The observation of the strategy of tension began with accusations that the United States government and the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 supported far-right terrorist groups in Italy and Turkey, where communism was growing in popularity, to spread panic among the population who would, in turn, demand stronger and more dictatorial governments.
Is it not like President Obama’s (NDAA) National Defense Appropriation Act, in which he includes the right for the military to indefinitely detain people affiliated with “terrorism,” including American citizens, without proof or legal representation or a trial? It even includes the right to kill any person associated with terrorists. Yes, the strategy of tension is an old terror chestnut brought back to frighten the liberal left citizens challenging right-wing power and actions.
The term “Strategy of tension” recurred during the trials that followed in the 1970s and 1980s Years of Lead ( “anni di piombo”), during which terror attacks and assassinations were committed by apparently neofascist terrorists (with such names as Ordine Nuovo, Avanguardia Nazionale or Fronte Nazionale), reeking with Italian patriotism.
In reality, it was primarily members and international supporters of the Italian Communist Party who invented and popularized the term “strategy of tension”. They meant to draw attention to the crimes of the Italian Right and far-right parties who were allegedly supported by the foreign belligerents. Again, these tragedies are not unlike the invocation of terrorist acts like Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon and the Aurora bomber—all designed to instill fear and a desire for more protection?
“The strategy of tension” grew out of the post-WW II Operation Gladio, Italy’s branch of the secret pre-positioned NATO “stay-behind” armies of Western Europe. These armies were set up to perform resistance, partisan, and guerrilla activities in the event of Soviet invasion; equivalent units were set up by other NATO members in their states. It is claimed that Gladio units were engaged in destabilization at the behest of the United States and other Western governments, intelligence agencies (e.g., the CIA), the P2 Masonic lodge, the Order of the Solar Temple, various church-related organizations, and domestic influences such as organized crime.
This is all verifiable history, like the creation today of a paramilitary controlled surveillance society, which prides itself on more and more protection, even total domination as in martiall law put into effect in Boston when bad things went bad with the Boston Marathon. In fact, there is a likely probability that Craft International, a mercenary company like Xe or Blackwell SF, which the CIA uses with impunity, was largely responsible. It is the premier technique of right-wing false-flag operatives.
Back in post-WWII days, the claims were backed by judicial proof which established that European fascist dictatorships of the time (the Greek junta and the secret services of Francisco Franco) were heavily involved in supporting and arming Italian neo-fascist and neo-nazi groups, such as Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale.
In this case it was assassinations, as Avanguardia Nazionale hitman Pierluigi Concutelli used an Ingram MAC-10 SMG to assassinate magistrate Vittorio Occorsio in the 1970s. It has been proven that Avanguardia Nazionale secured the weapon from the CIA via Francoist Spain. General Gianadelio Maletti, commander of the counter-intelligence section of the Italian military intelligence service from 1971 to 1975, stated that his men in the region of Venice discovered a right-wing terrorist cell that was supplied military explosives from Germany, and he alleged that US intelligence services instigated and abetted right-wing terrorism in Italy during the 1970s.
Carlo Digilio, an Italian neofascist, code named “Uncle Otto,” coordinated CIA activities in the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli from the 1960s to the 1970s, recruiting former fascists to serve the NATO and U.S. interests in Italy. He himself had been recruited in Verona by U.S. Navy Captain David Carrett.
These groups began to pursue an ostensibly extreme right-wing anti-communist agenda using violent means, including false flag bombings that were then blamed on extra-parliamentary left-wing militant organizations, to discredit the political Left, in general, at a time in Italy when the Italian Communist Party was very close to becoming the majority in the government. Today, we can substitute the word “terrorist” for Communist, yesterday’s boogeyman.
It should be noted that the actions carried out by these extreme groups were meant primarily to agitate and control public opinion, creating fears about the Communist Party. At the time, they created massive public concern and widespread paranoia. According to the “strategia della tensione” theory, this was de rigeur.
Examples of such actions include the 1972 Peteano bombing, long thought to have been carried out by the Red Brigades, but for which the neofascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra has been imprisoned, the attempted assassination of former Interior Minister Mariano Rumor on 17 May 1973 or the Bologna railway station bombing known as the Bologna massacre of 1980.
Today, we can look back to 9/11/2001 for the starting point of a more contemporary “strategy of tension” that endures until this day, and is used internationally by the US government and its allies for regime change, assassinations, hit lists, drone-bombings and the like.
The Guardian (UK), in an article published on June 24, 2000, reported that the parliamentarians of the Left Democrats, wrote a report to a subcommittee of the Italian Parliament about what they viewed as United States support for ‘anti-left terror in Italy’, and the activities of Gladio.
The report by the Left Democrats claimed that the aim of this alleged support for Gladio was to make the public think that the bombings were committed by a communist [sic terrorist] insurgency, to promote the formation of an authoritarian government, and to prevent the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from joining the ruling Democrazia Cristiana (DC) in a national unity government (the “Historic Compromise” between Aldo Moro (who was subsequently assassinated) and Enrico Berlinguer, respective leaders of the DC and of the PCI).
An astonishing observation of the terrorism in Italy that was blamed on communists is that it coincided with election victories for the communists at the polls. So as the PCI was gaining popular support, the number of civilian-targeted bombings, random knee-cappings, and high-profile kidnappings blamed on communist terrorists increased markedly.
Furthermore, starting with the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing and the 1972 Peteano attack, several bombings carried out by the far-right were at first blamed on anarchists (for the first one) and, for the second one, on the Red Brigades (BR)—although it was later found that neofascists, such as Vincenzo Vinciguerra, had organized them. Piazza Fontana’s bombing, in December 1969, marked the beginning of the “strategia della tensione,” which ended around the time of the Bologna railway station bombing in 1980. Post 9/11, there were train bombings in Madrid in 2004 and on July 7, 2005 in London’s subway bombing, the latter backed by MI6.
The report from the Left Democrats of Italy to a subcommittee of the Italian Parliament apparently concluded that the strategy of tension followed by Gladio had been supported by the United States to “stop the PCI, and, to a certain degree, also the PSI from reaching executive power in the country”.
Members of the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), part of the Commission on Terrorism headed by Senator Giovanni Pellegrino and created in 1988, also described the Italian peninsula since the end of World War II as a “country with ‘limited sovereignty’” and as an “American colony”
The centrist Italian Republican party described the claims as worthy of a 1970s Maoist group. Aldo Giannuli, a historian who works as a consultant to the parliamentary terrorism commission, sees the release of the Left Democrats’ report as a maneuver dictated primarily by domestic political considerations. “Since they have been in power, the Left Democrats have given us very little help in gaining access to security service archives,” he said. “This is a falsely courageous report.”
The existence of US Army Field Manual 30–31B lends even more credibility to the accusations that the CIA tried to destabilize democratic nations to foster U.S. interests. The United States maintains that such a manual is a forgery and has found Soviet defectors willing to testify that it was put together by the KGB. However Licio Gelli, grand master of the P2 Masonic Lodge involved in all of the murkiest and bloodiest episodes of the “strategy of tension,” repeated openly and bluntly (for example, to BBC journalist Allan Francovich) to have received his copy directly from the hands of CIA men.
In December 1969, four bombs struck Rome’s Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II (Altare della Patria), the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Milan’s Banca Commerciale and the Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura. The later attack, known as the Piazza Fontana bombing of 12 December 1969, killed 16 and injured 90, marking the beginning of this violent period.
Giuseppe Pinelli, a young anarchist, was interrogated about the crime, and died in police custody. After his suspicious death, which was claimed to be suicide by the authorities, investigator Luigi Calabresi came under violent criticism from the left and many intellectuals, considering him the person responsible for Pinelli’s death; Calabresi would be murdered two and a half years later. Think of ex-FBI terror chief John O’Neil, killed on his first day of work in the WTC, after resigning from the FBI.
Think about the Reichstag bombing. The paradigm for that act, in which several communists were accused, included the main “suspect” who was mentally ill and was sentenced to be decapitated and his several cronies hanged. Yet, it was Goering who orchestrated the fire. Think about the Oklahoma bombings, another false-flag attack blamed on domestic terrorists.
Think of the World Trade Center bombing of Tower 1 in 1993, blamed on the blind Sheik Rahman when it was the FBI who engineered the event. Think about 9/11/2001 and the fact that NORAD, flying exercises on the Northeast seaboard was not available to get a plane in the air to defend New York City. Then NORAD blamed the tragedy on 19 Muslim terrorists. More likely it was the Israeli Mossad, who stood most to gain.
In 1997, the courts condemned Leonardo Marino and Ovidio Bompressi for carrying out Piazza Fontana bombing, and Adriano Sofri and Giorgio Pietrostefani for ordering it. At the time of the murder, all four belonged to the extreme left-wing group Lotta Continua. After Pinelli, the police investigated another anarchist, Pietro Valpreda. He quickly became a hero to the left, who perceived him to be a victim of a plot to attribute a fascist bombing to the left. The leftist environment produced an investigative book, La strage di Stato (“The state massacre”), in which they claimed the state was attacking anarchists because they (by definition) could not have a political party to defend them, as communists would have had.
Neo-fascist terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie was then arrested in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1989 and rendered to Italy to stand trial for his role. Delle Chiaie was however acquitted by the Assise Court in Catanzaro in 1989, along with fellow accused Massimiliano Fachini.
Think of the true culprits behind the 9/11 attack, NORAD and the Israeli Mossad, who have successfully laid the blame on Muslim terrorists.
In 1998, David Carrett, a U.S. Navy captain, was indicted by a Milanese magistrate, Guido Salvini, on charges of political and military espionage and his participation in the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, among other events. Judge Guido Salvini also opened a case against Sergio Minetto, an Italian official for the US-NATO intelligence network, and pentito Carlo Digilio. La Repubblica underlined that Carlo Rocchi, the CIA’s man in Milan, was surprised in 1995 searching for information concerning Operation Gladio, thus demonstrating that all was not over.
A June 20, 2001, conviction of Italian Neo-fascists Carlo Maria Maggi, Delfo Zorzi and Giancarlo Rognoni was overturned in March 2004. Carlo Digilio, a suspected CIA informant, received immunity from prosecution by becoming a witness for the state (in agreement with the pentiti laws). All were declared not guilty.
According to extreme right-wing Ordine Nuovo member Vincenzo Vinciguerra, “The December 1969 explosion was supposed to be the detonator which would have convinced the political and military authorities to declare a state of emergency.” Does it sound familiar, followers of Sandy Hook and the Boston Massacre?
The first judicial investigation concerning the 1974 Piazza della Loggia bombing led to the condemnation in 1979 of a member of the Brescian far-right movement. However, this first sentence was canceled in 1983 and the suspect absolved in 1985 by the Court of Cassation. A second investigation led to the accusation of another far-right activist, who was thereafter absolved in 1989 because of insufficient proof.
A third investigation is still in active. On May 19, 2005, the Court of Cassation confirmed the arrest warrant against Delfo Zorzi, a former member of the Ordine Nuovo neo-fascist group, who was also suspected of being the material executor of the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing. Alongside Delfo Zorzi, his neo-fascist comrades Carlo Maria Maggi and Maurizio Tramonte, all members of the Ordine Nuovo group founded in 1956 by Pino Rauti, are also suspected of having organized the Piazza della Loggia bombing.
Bologna railway bombing, August 2, 1980
The Bologna railway bombing killed 85 persons and injured 200. A long, troubled and controversial court case and political issue ensued. The relatives of the victims formed an association (Association tra i famigliari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980) to raise and maintain civil awareness on the Bologna massacre. On 23 November 1995 the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) upheld the sentences of the second appeals court:
- Confirmation of life imprisonment for the Neo-Fascist terrorists Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro—who pleaded innocent—as executors of the attack
- Licio Gelli (headmaster of Propaganda Due—aka P2), Francesco Pazienza and SISMI officers Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte sentenced for obstructing the investigation.
Role of Italian intelligence services
In 1974, Vito Miceli, P2 member, chief of the SIOS (Servizio Informazioni), Army Intelligence’s Service from 1969 and SID‘s head from 1970 to 1974, was arrested on charges of “conspiracy against the state” concerning investigations about Rosa dei venti, a state-infiltrated group involved in terrorist acts. In 1977, the secret services were reorganized in a democratic attempt. With law #801 of 24/10/1977, SID was divided into SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare), SISDE (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Democratica) and CESIS (Comitato Esecutivo per i Servizi di Informazione e Sicurezza). The CESIS had a coordination role, led by the President of Council.
It was a very simple strategy: Bombs were built by chemistry students, some of them were optimistic and believed that they could bring freedom to their colleagues in Yugoslavia and Romania. Other people were pessimistic and believed that the leadership would be replaced by people more loyal to Moscow, after which would come what Senator Giulio Andreotti has called “the great silence”.
Turkey has a history of involvement in similar plots. The Turkish branch of Gladio, known as Counter-Guerrilla, allegedly followed a similar strategy in order to justify the 1980 military coup. Turkish secret police are also believed to have instigated the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1955, leading to the Istanbul Pogrom against the Greek minority of Istanbul. Today, the Turkish government has exploded in violent response to gatherings of Turkish people in an Istanbul park to protest Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s intended destruction of the park to build a shopping mall. Erdoğan has condemned the protestors as rebels wanting to destroy the country.
On and on it goes, the “strategy of tension” in the U.S. and around the world, using tactics that aim to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions. It also points to a universal conspiracy of the right to run these techniques in any country in the world that has a democratic or left-leaning government. And that definitely is not just yesterday’s news? That is the future unless we change it.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.