Italian intelligence services arrested 19 people and seized a cache of weapons on Thursday, as part of an extensive operation into a far-right group who wanted to create a new Nazi party. The investigation, called “black shadows”, was coordinated by the police service responsible for combating extremism and internal terrorism.
The 19 detainees are being investigated on suspicion of belonging to a subversive organisation among other possible charges. Among those arrested are a 48-year-old woman in the province of Padua, who is reported to be the group’s leader, and a 26-year-old woman from Sicily who once won an online beauty contest called “Miss Hitler” and spoke at a far-right conference in Lisbon in August.
The head trainer of the militants was a former senior member of the powerful Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta, who turned supergrass a few years ago and has since collaborated with the police. He was also a former member and contact person in the region of Liguria of the neo-fascist political party Forza Nuova.
In raids across the country, police discovered weapons, explosives, Nazi memorabilia featuring swastikas, Nazi flags and books on Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. According to Italian authorities, the aim of the group was to establish a new extreme right-wing party, called the ” Italian National Socialist Workers Party” and had been engaged in an online recruitment campaign.
Investigators said they had developed an organisational structure and a program of action and training in both Nazi ideology and weapons. They were also in contact with far-right groups in other European countries including Portugal and the UK.
Last July, Police in the Italian city of Turin arrested three far-right extremists and uncovered a huge arsenal of weapons including an air-to-air missile in an anti-terrorist operation targeting Italians who fought among pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
“During the operation, an air-to-air missile in perfect working order and used by the Qatar army was seized,” police said in a statement.
Turin police said at the time that one of the men arrested, Fabio Del Bergiolo, had run unsuccessfully in 2001 as a senate candidate for Forza Nuova.