Recently VICE magazine published a story that was nostalgic for forgotten terrorist groups from the 1970s, to the point of eulogizing them in an age of far more deadly and insidious Islamist attacks around the world. Could it be that the cowards behind the Rome embassy attacks this week sensed the moment was ripe for a return to letter bombs and misguided anarchist idealism? TIME takes a look at the perps:
The Italian anarchists who have claimed responsibility for the letter bombs that exploded in the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome Thursday want to make it clear that they consider themselves part of something bigger. “We’ve decided to make our voice heard once again, with words and with deeds,” read a note written in Italian found in the remains of a crude bomb that exploded in the Chilean embassy. “We will destroy the system of domination.”
The note was signed by the Informal Federation of Anarchy, a loose union of Italian anarchist groups that authorities say is the largest such organization in the country. It said the bombs were the work of the organization’s “Lambros Founas Cell,” named after a Greek anarchist killed in a shootout with police in March, and expressed solidarity with other anarchist groups in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Greece.
“Even the choice of targets was not an accident,” said Alfredo Mantovano, vice minister of the interior, to the Italian daily Il Giornale. According to Mantovano, the bomb that exploded in the Swiss embassy a bit before noon, severely injuring a Swiss national’s hands, had been sent in response to recent arrests of anarchists in Switzerland. The Chilean embassy — where a blast shortly after the one at the Swiss embassy injured a staff member in the hand, chest and eye — was targeted for the Chilean government’s fight against anarchist Mauricio Morales, who died in Santiago in 2009 when a bomb he was carrying exploded.
But while there’s little doubt the group shares an ideological affinity with violent activists in other parts of the world, it’s less certain that their capabilities rise to the level normally associated with international terrorism. The bombs, made from video cassette boxes stuffed with gunpowder and metal shards, were triggered by a nine-volt battery. Officials say they were mailed from within the country, using the Italian postal system. “It is a small group of individuals, not really capable of organizing themselves,” says Gianfranco Pasquino, a professor of political science and expert in terrorism at the University of Bologna, adding that the anarchists had few supporters in Italian society…
[continues in TIME]