CIA activities in Italy

CIA activities in Italy


Italy 1948

At this time, the CIA proper did not have control of covert action or clandestine intelligence. It had coordination authority over the quasi-autonomous groups with those responsibilities, the Office of Policy Coordination and the Office of Special Operations. Some of the confusion that resulted is illustrated by a seemingly simple request to have the two organizations make their divisions based on geography be consistent.

Allen W. Dulles [Director of Central Intelligence] suggested the alignment of the geographic organization was a simple first step to integration. Mr. Wisner [Director of OPC] said that this might prove difficult in certain instances and cited Italy as an example. He said that O/PC in Italy falls naturally into the Western Hemisphere bloc, whereas in O/SO it is in the Mediterranean-Balkan area. It was pointed out that [less than 1 line not declassified]. It was concluded that this matter would be studied and that there probably would be adjustments necessary on both sides.[1]

Clandestine political action

CIA was successful in limiting native Communist influence in France and Italy, notably in the 1948 Italian election.

Covert action and unconventional warfare preparation

A clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy called Operation Gladio (see also Gladio in Italy), was set up to counter a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe.

Italy 1990

Covert paramilitary action

Italian government officials agree that a stay-behind network called Operation Gladio had been formed against the contingency of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Italy, but not terminated until 1990. It is disputed, however, if this network was involved in a series of "false flag" fascist terrorist actions in Italy that were blamed on the "Red Brigades" and other Left-wing political groups in an attempt to politically discredit the Italian Left wing.[2]

When Venetian magistrate Felice Casson, while investigating a 1970s car bombing in Peteano, uncovers references to Gladio while searching through files at SISMI, the Italian intelligence service. Time magazine quotes Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti admits Gladio existed due to the climate of the times and chided the opposition for "insinuating suspicions." He insisted that although Gladio had a military structure, "it had never been involved in terrorist activities." [3][4] According to Charles Richard, reporting for The Independent, General Paolo Inzerilli, SISMI chief of staff, said the network was shut down in the previous week of November 1990. A parliamentary committee on intelligence, looking into the Gladio affair heard testimony from three former prime ministers: Amintore Fanfani, Ciriaco De Mita and Bettino Craxi.[5] Richards said General Gerardo Serravalle, head of Gladio from 1971 to 1974, told a television reporter that he now thought the explosion aboard the plane Argo 16 on 23 November 1973 was probably the work of Gladio members who were refusing to hand over the weapons they had obtained from Gladio. Until then it was widely believed the sabotage was carried out by Mossad, the Israeli foreign secret service, in retaliation for the pro-Libyan Italian government's decision to expel, rather than try, five Arabs who had tried to blow up an Israeli air-liner. The Arabs had been spirited out of the country on board the Argo 16.

The US state department has denied involvement in terrorism and stated that some of the claims have been influenced by a Soviet forgery, US Army Field Manual 30-31B.[6]

Italy 2003

Covert action and international law aspects

The Abu Omar Case (or Imam Rapito affair - "Kidnapped Imam affair") refers to the abduction and transfer to Egypt of the Imam of Milan Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. The legal issues of the case deal with extraordinary rendition carried out by the CIA in the context of the global war on terrorism.

On 23 December 2005, a judge issued a European arrest warrant against 22 CIA agents for allegedly abducting an Egyptian terrorist suspect. On 22 January 2006, the Italian Foreign Minister forwarded to the US authorities a request for legal assistance.[7]


  1. ^ Meeting on Integration of O/SO and O/PC, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950-1955: The Intelligence Community, United States Department of State, February 14, 1951, FRUS 50, [dead link]
  2. ^ Charles Richards and Simon Jones (16 November 1990), "Skeletons start emerging from Europe's closet", The Independent: 11. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "World Notes ITALY", Time, 19 November 1990 
  5. ^ Richards, Charles (1 December 1990), "Gladio is still opening wounds", Independent: 12, 
  6. ^ "Misinformation about "Gladio/Stay Behind" Networks Resurfaces". United States Department of State. 
  7. ^ International Commission of Jurists (February 2006), "National Inquiries into allegations of secret CIA flights and detention centres", E-Bulletin on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, 

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