- From the Department of 40 Kiwi Anarchists…
Courtesy of some poison pen letters, the ‘Federazione Anarchica Informale’ or ‘Informal Anarchist Federation’ (FAI) has been getting rather a lot of media attention in the past week, although what the FAI actually is–and what purpose it serves–is much more open to question. Italian authorities have stated that the group claimed responsibility for two recent parcel bombs: one sent to the Chilean Embassy in Rome, the other to the Swiss; a worker at each location was injured in the subsequent explosions.
According to the BBC, the FAI’s declaration of responsibility was found “in a note found on the clothing of the injured Chilean”; according to The Wall Street Journal, Italian news agency ANSA reported late Thursday that [the claim] … was found in a small box near one of the wounded employees, and was being examined by antiterrorism police squad. “Long live FAI, long live anarchy,” the claim said, according to ANSA. Whatever the case, in addition to a letter bomb sent to the Greek Embassy–also attributed to the FAI–explosions have also apparently taken place at the headquarters of the Northern League, attacks for which “anarchists”, altho’ not necessarily those belonging to the FAI, are also being blamed.
Unlike Old School Anarchist Terrorism, which largely confined itself to targeting Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers (“seven European, Russian, and American monarchs and heads of state or government were assassinated by anarchists (or former anarchists) in the fourteen years between 1894 and 1912”–this deliberate targeting of rulers, as opposed to er, ‘civilians’, being precisely why anarchist terrorism came to be the most reviled by bourgeois society), in its latest spectacular the FAI has merely succeeded in injuring two Embassy employees, one some kid called Cesar. This was apparently in accord with its declaration that “We Have Decided To Make Our Voice Heard With Words And With Facts, We Will Destroy The System Of Dominance”.
The most recent letter bombs were sent in the name of the ‘Informal Anarchist Federation – FAI – Revolutionary Cell Lambros Foundas’. Lambros Foundas was a Greek d00d murdered by police in Athens in March 2010; as indicated below, his mates aren’t necessarily appreciative of the FAI’s efforts.
The FAI first came to the (global) public’s attention in 2003, partly by way of Giuseppe Pisanu, then Minister of the Interior. He done wrote the following in late 2003/early 2004 in a ‘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’:
…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”.
Blah blah blah.
An English translation of the 2003 letter, and a ‘Statement from comrades of the Revolutionary Struggle (Greece)’ in response to the FAI’s latest shenanigans is available via 325: Winter parcel bombs for Rome Embassies from Informal Anarchist Federation (Italy) + Statement from comrades of the Revolutionary Struggle (Greece).
Over six years after their first few, rather amateurish gigs–according to experts, the incendiary device sent to Romani Prodi could not have exploded, was concealed “in a book and… made up of a clothes-peg, black powder, a flash for photo-camera and a 9-volt battery”–in March 2010 the casually-dressed network of anarchist correspondents tried to become pen pals with The Corrupt Knight, but their attempt to establish a dialogue (of sorts) with Italy’s decrepit ruler was rebuffed. Otherwise, the FAI’s epistles have been placed within the category of actions associated with a particular current of anarchist praxis often referred to as insurrectionism (or even insurrectionalism). Something like it has been bubbling along for many decades–probably since the late nineteenth century in fact–but as a more distinct, contemporary trend or tendency it can probably be periodised as belonging to the post-1968 era. Some relevant texts on ‘insurrectionism’ in this latter sense have been made available by Elephant Editions; Killing King Abacus also done published stuff, and the pages of Anarchy also features disco. There are, of course, lotsa other sauces, especially in the eco-anarchist milieu, and among various ‘ultra-leftist’ tendencies. The most entertaining, popular reference to insurrection(al)ism, however, has come courtesy of a buffoonish Glenn Beck, whose anxious examination of a text, The Coming Insurrection, by an anonymous group (?) of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, produced some of the year’s best television.
Police and other keen-eyed observers have drawn links between the FAI and the Still Crazy After All These Years World of the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei (see : Greece-Italy Anarchist Link Seen in Letter Bombs, Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, December 28, 2010, below). On all things Greek, taxikipali @ libcom is neat, as is Occupied London blog. Otherwise, officialdom within Europe has begun sounding the alarm on increasing signs of social unrest for some time now and, moreover, militant opposition against the imposition of increasingly severe austerity measures. Most of the concern so far expressed regarding increasing anarchist or radical influence upon social movements has been faintly idiotic but, especially insofar as ‘anarchist’ may be understood as being a synonym for ‘militant’, there’s some truth to these assertions, as an ossified social structure finds it more difficult to channel dissent into harmless for(u)ms. More sensibly, the real danger is economic polarisation producing political polarisation, and the diversion of popular resentment away from those at the bottom of the social hierarchy towards those at the top–including those seeking to replace Bad Leadership with Good.
An Italian group called the Informal Anarchist Federation claimed responsibility for the defused letter bomb, as well as for two letter bombs that exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies to Rome on Dec. 23, seriously injuring two people.
Col. Maurizio Mezzavilla of the Carabinieri paramilitary police said the device sent to the Greek embassy was a response to the arrests in Greece in November of two alleged members of an anarchist group, the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, which claimed responsibility for sending 14 letter bombs to embassies in Athens last month.
A note found with the Greek embassy bomb in Rome on Monday read, “We’re striking again, and we do so in response to the appeal sent by the Greek comrades of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire,” Colonel Mezzavilla said.
He [further] quoted the note as saying: “That is why we are directing the new attack to one of the structures that represents the Greek state and its servants, in solidarity with the comrades arrested in Athens and the Conspiracy’s project which, like ours, is based on the actions and methods of revolutionary violence.”
Italian and Greek police officials say that anarchist groups across Europe maintain close ties with each other through the Internet, and often act to call attention to their cause.
Colonel Mezzavilla said the note at the Greek embassy had been found in a small metal licorice box sent in the same packet as the explosive device.
After the spate of letter bombs in Athens, Greek police arrested two Greeks, Panagiotis Argyros, 22, and Gerasimos Tsakalos, 24, in November, and charged them with terrorism-related offenses. They and other alleged members of their group are expected to go on trial on Jan. 17.
Colonel Mezzavilla said that the packages sent to the Greek, Chilean and Swiss embassies were of similar construction.
Italian security officials said the Informal Anarchist Federation had sent the letter bombs to the Chilean and Swiss embassies in order to call attention to an anarchist who died in Santiago in 2009, and to protest the arrest of three anarchists in Switzerland earlier this year.
The “anarchist who died in Santiago in 2009” was Mauricio Morales Duarte; the three anarchists arrested in Switzerland in April 2010—Silvia Guerini, Constatino Ragusa and Luca Bernasconi–are accused of conspiring to sabotage an IBM laboratory and of belonging to an Italian group named Il Silvestre. For acting in defence of the earth, Il Silvestre has been under attack by the state for some time.
In all of the (English-language, state/corporate) reportage I’m aware of, no acknowledgment has yet been made of the Italian state’s complicity in organising the worst terrorist incidents in Italy, and only one reference to the ‘strategy of tension’ employed by the state in the 1970s, in which bombings were employed strategically in order to justify increased state repression of social movements. (The bombing of the Piazza Fontana in December 1969, in which 18 were killed and scores wounded, was orchestrated by the state, committed by neo-fascists, blamed on anarchists, and resulted in the police murder of the anarchist Giuseppe Pinnelli.) The one exception is John Hooper, Italian opposition asks: Who led Rome riots? (The Guardian, December 15, 2010), although here Hooper is referring not to mass murder but to police violence in a general sense, and in specific reference to a student demonstration, not a bombing campaign.
In any event, Enrico Massetti has translated some articles on the bombings and related matters, written by Italian anarchists over a period of some years and published in the periodicals libertaria and rivista anarchica, which you can read here; Stuart Christie has more links here.
Otherwise, the following is amusing.
European anarchists grow more violent, coordinated
Nicole Winfield and Derek Gatopoulos
December 28, 2010
ROME – A loosely linked movement of European anarchists who want to bring down state and financial institutions is becoming more violent and coordinated after decades out of the spotlight, and may be responding to social tensions spawned by the continent’s financial crisis, security experts say.
Italian police said Tuesday that letter bombs were sent to three embassies in Rome by Italian anarchists in solidarity with jailed Greek anarchists, who had asked their comrades to organize and coordinate a global “revolutionary war.”
Identical package bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome on Dec. 23, badly wounding the two people who opened them. A third bomb was safely defused at the Greek Embassy on Monday.
“We’re striking again, and we do so in response to the appeal launched by our Greek companions,” the Italian group known as the Informal Anarchist Federation wrote in a claim of responsibility for the third bomb that was released by police here Tuesday.
Extreme left-wing and anarchist movements have existed for decades in Europe — waging deadly attacks across the continent in the 1960s and 1970s that trailed and became sporadic in recent decades. Officials, meanwhile, focused far more intensely on the threat of Islamist terrorism.
But the European Union’s police agency, Europol, reported this year that attacks by far-left and anarchist militant groups jumped by 43 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year, and more than doubled over 2007, with most of the incidents in Italy, Spain and Greece. Spain and Greece have been hit particularly hard by government cutbacks and unemployment resulting from a continentwide debt crisis. Italy has also been growing tense in recent months in response to austerity measures and a political duel between Premier Silvio Berlusconi and a former ally that for weeks threatened the government’s survival.
Last month, 14 letter bombs were mailed to embassies in Athens by a Greek group that urged stepped-up attacks by anarchists worldwide. Two of the devices exploded, causing no injuries.
“Anarchists-insurrectionists work to try to raise the level of clashes when there are problems” said Marco Boschi, a criminologist who teaches a course on terrorism at the University of Florence and has written about anarchists. “They exploit every occasion.”
A Greek group calling itself the Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire claimed responsibility for sending the 14 mail bombs in Athens. Panagiotis Argyros, 22 and Gerasimos Tsakalos, 24, were arrested on Nov. 1 in connection with the mailings and were charged with terrorism-related offenses. At least a dozen suspected members of their group are due to go on trial Jan. 17 for other offenses.
The Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire called on militants around Europe to step up their actions before the trial.
“We will organize internationally and take aim at the enemy. We can’t wait to see the subversive elements flooding the streets and the guerrilla groups striking again and again,” the group wrote.
But European anarchists are not always in step.
The solidarity boasted by the Italian anarchists who targeted the Rome embassies apparently irritated a Greek militant group, whose membership included Lambros Foundas, who was killed in a shootout with police in Athens earlier this year.
Three imprisoned members of Revolutionary Struggle claimed in a communique Tuesday evening that their group never carries out actions “that would result in the injury of someone, like a random embassy official.” The Italian anarchists, in their claim of responsibility for the embassy bombs, said their cell was named after Foundas.
Italian officials have said the Swiss Embassy was targeted by the latest attack in Italy because intensified Swiss-Italian cooperation led to two well-known arrests of anarchists.
Swiss anarchist and environmentalist Marco Camenisch, a hero to many anarchists, was arrested by Italian police in 1991 and imprisoned over the 1989 murder of a Swiss border police officer. After serving nine years in an Italian maximum-security prison, he was extradited in 2002 to Switzerland, where he was later sentenced for the murder.
In April 2010, Swiss police with the help of Italian authorities arrested two men and a woman who idolized Camenisch and were members of an Italian eco-terrorist group. They were suspected of planning to bomb an IBM Corp. research facility near Zurich.
Chile, meanwhile, was targeted because a Chilean anarchist, Mauricio Morales, was killed when a bomb in a backpack he was carrying blew up in Santiago in 2009, Italian officials have said.
Alessandro Ceci of the Center of Superior Studies for the Fight Against Terrorism and Political Violence theorized the Italian anarchists may be trying partly to take advantage of the political climate in Italy: Premier Silvio Berlusconi has seen his parliamentary majority fall and just barely survived a no-confidence vote this month. In addition, protests against university budget cuts turned violent on Dec. 14, thanks in part to anarchist infiltration of student demonstrators.
“If I were an Italian (police) investigator, I’d be worried,” Ceci said, comparing the highly charged atmosphere to that of the late 1960s, just before the Red Brigades leftist domestic terror group launched into action.
But political science professor Franco Pavoncello at Rome’s John Cabot University said he didn’t foresee a return to that era of leftist terror.
“If this were the anarchists’ goal, they would not be focusing on embassies,” he said.
He noted that no one really knows how many people are behind the group that claimed responsibility.
“They are surely not of an international level, maybe European, but I would better describe them as the result of pathological behaviors often of an individual nature, and very domestic,” he said.
Another Italian anarchist group, the Italian Anarchist Federation, which happens to use the same acronym as the one behind the letter-bomb campaign, discounted the possibility of highly coordinated and organized anarchist offensives in the future.
“Anarchism by its own nature is not a hierarchal organization, and all the participants enter in a confederation on the same level and act freely,” said Donato Randini, who edits the group’s periodical.
Gatopoulos reported from Athens. Martino Villosio, Frances D’Emilio and Alberto Mucci in Rome, Nicholas Paphitis in Athens and John Heilprin in Geneva contributed to this report.
(This version corrects anarchist group name from Association to Federation.)