Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s Italy suffered one of the most severe waves of domestic political terrorism experienced by any Western democracy. During those years, Italian terrorists committed more than 12,000 acts of political violence. The 1978 assassination of former prime minister Aldo Moro and the 1980 bombing of the railroad station in Bologna, in particular, attracted world-wide publicity. Aside from its magnitude, Italian terrorism has been distinguished from that in other Western democracies by the fact that very little violence can be traced to the grievances of ethnic or religious minorities and by the prominent role of right-wing bands.
This book relates the formation, development, and eventual defeat of both neo-Fascist and left-wing terrorist groups in Italy. In addition to assessing the historical origins and contemporary manifestations of Italian terrorism, the authors examine the biographies of 2,500 individuals who participated in the violence, answering such questions as who the terrorists were, where they came from, and what led them to commit violent acts. The authors explore the causes of violence not only by reviewing terrorist groups' ideological pronouncements but also by analyzing the social, economic, and political conditions in those sections of Italy hardest hit by terrorism. Finally, the book describes the actions taken by the much-maligned Italian state to overcome successfully the terrorist threat.