It's official: The Italian government allowed Palestinian terror organizations to act freely within its territory in exchange for their commitment to refrain from targeting national and international Italian sites.
Menahem Gantz Published: 08.17.08, 19:07 / Israel News
In an article written by former Italian President Francesco Cossiga for the national newspaper Corriere della Sera he confesses, "I always knew, though not by official documents and information kept from me, about the existence of an agreement based on 'don't harm me and I won't harm you' between the Italian Republic and organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the PLO."
According to Cossiga the agreement was approved and directed by former Italian Premier Aldo Moro, who "was awarded an extraordinary capability for the direction of Italian intelligence agencies and special forces after he received approval for the deal."
"According to the deal, the Palestinian organizations could establish bases in Italy, enjoyed freedom of movement when entering and exiting the country, and could move around without undergoing mandatory security checks because they were protected by the secret service," Cossiga explained.
"During my time as interior minister I learned that PLO people were holding heavy artillery in their homes and protected by diplomatic immunity as representatives of the Arab League. I was told not to worry and I managed to convince them to lay down their heavy artillery and make do with light weaponry."
Cossiga's article was published just one day after Corriere della Serra's reporter in Israel interviewed Bassam Abu Sharif in Jericho, who is considered the foreign minister of the PFLP. In the interview Sharif admitted that Italy permitted free movement to Palestinian organizations within its boundaries.
But the agreement did not always run smoothly. On August 2, 1980 an explosion shook Bologna's train station; 85 people were killed and 200 more were injured in the blast. Cossiga believes it is entirely possible that the explosion was due to a "work accident" and that explosive materials handled by the Palestinians were responsible for the incident.
However Sharif claims that international intelligence agencies, mainly the Israeli Mossad, instigated the event in order to undermine the agreement between the Palestinian organizations and the Italian government. Thus Italians began to feel that the blast was not an outcome of a conflict between Italian extremists, but rather a consequence of the Israeli-Arab quarrel.
Aldo Moro himself was kidnapped by the Red Brigades terror organization. In a letter he sent from captivity the former premier admitted that "with the Palestinians we get along in a different manner." When he was nearing death he launched another letter in which he claimed that "only the Palestinians can serve as mediators with the Red Brigades."
Indeed, Sharif admitted recently that his organization held ties with the Italian leftist group, which ended up executing Moro and terrorizing Italy for many years.