Neo-Nazi network uncovered in Italy
After two years of investigation, in the end of November 2019, Italy’s anti-mafia and anti-terrorist forces cracked down on a heavily armed paramilitary neo-Nazi network spread throughout the country. Links to similar groups such as C18 in Britain, Nova Ordem Social in Portugal, and other groups in Spain and Greece have been established.1 2
Someone from inside the police had warned a member of the group, the Sicilian Francesca Rizzi, that the police was monitoring them.1 The mole was identified as the 54-year old L. N., who at the time was on duty at the Turin police headquarters, and is currently being investigated for having revealed confidential information and unauthorized access to the police information system.3 Therefor police units moved in quickly and performed house searches among 19 members of the neo-Nazi network in 16 Italian cities, seizing a huge arsenal of weapons, including grenades and semi-automatic rifles and explosives. Police forces also found Nazi and fascist memorabilia, as well as paramilitary manuals, some of the seized material sporting the slogan “Invisible, Silent and Lethal.” One of the suspects, Maurizio Aschieri, 57, from Monza was arrested, who had a shotgun and military grade ammunition at his house.3
La Repubblica reported that3
Investigators stumbled upon the lately uncovered neo-Nazi network almost by accident: the police ... was investigating gunshots fired last year against the windows of the migrant center "Don Bosco 2000" in Pietraperzia, when they caught a young man from the province ... He is the first suspect in this story. His name is Carlo Lo Monaco, he is 30 years old, and a borderline patient who is currently in jail for having murdered his father Armando. His contacts led to the neo-Nazi network.
The intention of the group was apparently to found a neo-fascist party named Italian National Socialist Workers' Party (Partito Nazional Socialista Italiano dei Lavoratori, PNSIL).2 Flyers with the logo of the future party were seized, indicating that the group existed since 2017. The logo includes the Wolfsangel, an emblem that had been used by several units of the Waffen-SS, and also a handful of neo-fascist organizations after the war.
In Italy another neo-Nazi paramilitary group, Terza Posizione ("Third Position"), had used the Wolfsangel as part of its logo in the past. Despite its brief life and ambiguous relationships with terrorist groups, Terza Posizione remains one of the most influential groups of the Italian and European far right. Many of its former members continued to play prominent roles in far-right politics after the disbanding of the original association, notably Roberto Fiore and Gabriele Adinolfi.
Fiore, together with TP member Massimo Morsello, later founded the neo-Fascist Forza Nuova party, of which one of the 19 suspects of the PNSIL network was reportedly a member.
According to the Guardian:2
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.
The Deutsche Welle reported that "the man ... had turned informant for the police against the mafia but was apparently acting as the chief "trainer" for the violence the neo-Nazi group hoped to carry out. Specific center-left politicians were named as possible targets."4 Among them "two MPs for the center-left Democratic party – Emanuele Fiano, a prominent figure in the Italian Jewish community, and Laura Boldrini, a former parliamentary speaker and a victim of persistent online abuse and bogus news reports."2
One of the leaders of the PNSIL group was the 48-years old Antonella Pavin based in Padua, who apparently had posted on Facebook in July 2018 that the group would start “military training” in August.1 According a Guardian article she had called herself “Hitler’s Sergeant Major" on social media, and investigators found antisemitic and neo-Nazi publications at her home. Apparently the Corriere del Veneto had the opportunity to talk to Pavin, when she underlined her antisemitic delusions: that there were "swimming pools and cinemas" at Auschwitz extermination camp and no gas chambers,5 and that "nowadays the banks are run by Jews and that the Zionist lobby governs the phenomenon of immigration."5
About the PNSIL, Pavin said:5
It was founded at the end of 2016 and I became a member in February 2017 until the following year. But it was not a real party. It was a group without any political force, born on the internet. In the end we found ourselves only five members and it made no sense to continue ... But behind there were other people, whom I do not know but who kept track of everything. They are the ones who have brought me into this mess.
Another key PNSIL member, Francesca Rizzi has just recently won a "Miss Hitler" contest, which revealed her back tattoo to be the Reich eagle and a crested swastika. She has been a speaker at a major neo-Nazi gathering in Lisbon in August 2019, organized by the Portuguese Mário Machado, where she was introduced as a member of "Autonomia Nazionalista," the Italian branch of the "Autonomous Nationalists," neo-Nazis, who have adopted some of the far left and Antifa's organizational concepts.
Pictures published in Il Messagiero show the scope of the findings.6
- 1 a b c Barbie Latza Nadeau, "Italy’s ‘Miss Hitler’ Among 19 Investigated for Starting New Nazi Party in Italy," Daily Beast, November 30, 2019, https://www.thedailybeast.com/italys-miss-hitler-francesca-rizzi-among-19-investigated-for-starting-new-nazi-party-in-italy.
- 2 a b c d Lorenzo Tondo, "Italian police uncover Nazi plot as 19 arrested and weapons seized," The Guardian, November 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/28/italian-police-uncover-nazi-plot-as-19-arrested-and-weapons-seized.
- 3 a b c Salvo Palazzolo, "Neonazisti, una talpa nella polizia avvertì miss Hitler. “Gli sbirri ti osservano”. E scattò l’allerta," La Repubblica, November 29, 2019, https://palermo.repubblica.it/cronaca/2019/11/29/news/neonazisti_una_talpa_nella_polizia_avverti_miss_hitler_gli_sbirri_ti_osservano_e_scatto_l_allerta-242179780/?ref=RHPPLF-BH-I242179777-C8-P8-S2.8-T1.
- 4"Italy busts neo-Nazi ring, 'Miss Hitler' pageant winner," Deutsche Welle, November 28, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/italy-busts-neo-nazi-ring-miss-hitler-pageant-winner/a-51458025.
- 5 a b c Andrea Priante, "La follia della «sergente di Hitler»: «Solo piscine nei lager, nessuna camera a gas»," Corriere del Veneto, November 29, 2019, https://corrieredelveneto.corriere.it/veneto/cronaca/19_novembre_29/sergente-hitlersolo-piscine-lagernessuna-camera-gas-429c4776-127e-11ea-9ad5-0c9c81152206.shtml?refresh_ce-cp.
- 6"Estremisti di destra indagati, ai vertici la mamma "sergente di Hitler": reclutava i nuovi nazisti italiani," Il Messagiero, November 28, 2019, https://www.ilmessaggero.it/italia/partito_nazista_indagati_enna_estremisti_armi_esplosivi-4892061.html.