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November 06 , 2007

Secrets and Bombs. Piazza Fontana 1969


At 4.37 p.m. on 12 December 1969 — the day that Greece (under the Colonels’ Junta) was expelled from the Council of Europe — a powerful explosion ripped through the main hall of the Banca de Agricoltura in Milan’s Piazza Fontana. Sixteen people were killed and a further 88 innocent bystanders were seriously injured. Within minutes of the explosion the police and Interior Ministry had laid responsibility for the outrage at the door of the anarchists, and over the next few days over 150 of them were brought in for questioning by Inspector Luigi Calabresi, acting head of the Milan political police squad. One of these anarchists, Giuseppe Pinelli, was thrown from Calabresi’s fourth floor office window to his death in the yard below, or perhaps he was dead prior to the fall. Pinelli’s death became a national scandal and it quickly became clear that the anarchists were innocent. The bombing (along with many others, before, contemporaneously and subsequently), had in fact been carried out by fascists acting as agents of the Italian Secret Service, Federico Umberto D’Amato’s Bureau of Confidential Affairs (Interior Ministry) and by the shadowy NATO-US-backed ‘Gladio’ ‘stay-behind’ resistance organization, recruited from among the ranks of hand-chosen extreme right-wingers and neo-fascists. The objective of this ‘strategy of tension” was to ensure that leftists and Communists could not come to power in Italy by creating a psychosis of fear of the left among ordinary Italians and a desire for strong, authoritarian government. This is the story of an extraordinary chapter in Italy’s history and the still unanswered questions surrounding the massacre of the Piazza Fontana on that cold day in December, 1969

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