We forget that prior to the religious wave of terrorism there were left-wing killers.
Quick! I’ll give you a country name and you give me the first thing that pops into your mind that has to do with violence.
Your answer would undoubtedly be: the Mafia.
And in that you would not be ‘wrong’. The Mafia – aka Cosa Nostra – is indeed a highly professional and violent criminal organisation that has been a problem for law enforcement agencies around the world for decades. They are of course not the only such entity but they are by far the most famous.
The Mafia began in Sicily in the 19th century and spread to the US on the heels of mass migration in the 20th century. Countless movies and books have featured them and they are no well-established in popular culture.
But Italy has had other groups that are more terrorist than criminal in nature. One such organisation billed itself as the Brigate Rosse: the Red Brigades. Formed in 1970, they sought to create a “revolutionary” state through armed struggle, and to remove Italy from tNATO. They attained notoriety in the 1970s and early 1980s with their violent attempts to destabilise Italy by acts of sabotage, bank robberies, kidnappings and murders.
Kidnapping of Aldo Moro
One of the latter began on this day in 1978 when the Brigade Rosse kidnapped former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Less than two months later, on May 9, his bullet-riddled body was found in the back of a car in the centre in Rome: the Italian government had refused to negotiate with the terrorists.
The Red Brigades were part of what terrorism scholar David Rapoport called the ‘New Left Wave’ (the third of his four ‘waves’ of terrorism). That wave has all but disappeared, supplanted by the subsequent religious one.
We would be foolish to think, however, that there cannot be a resurgence of far-left terrorism, especially in light of growing anger over inaction on climate change.