Terrorism: January 9, 2003


: The letter bomb, an old but proven terrorist  weapon, has recently been used by Anarchists against European Union political figures. Two parcel bombs sent from Bologna to European Parliament members exploded in Brussels and Manchester earlier this week. In December, several parcels were sent to other European figures. A total of seven suspect packages have been intercepted. 

Anarchism was a 19th century development, sort of  "communism without the bureaucracy." It was popular with students because it advocated promiscuous sex. But Anarchism was rejected by the other revolutionary organizations and the hard core anarchists turned to violence and murder to destroy the state and bring about the anarchist paradise. A century ago, anarchist assassins killed an American president and several European heads of state. Many bombs were set off and nothing was accomplished. This approach to politics has remained popular among extremists, especially in Europe.

Security forces are now concentrating on one group based in Bologna, where the majority of the parcels were postmarked. On the 6th, Italy's Interior Ministry created a European task force to track down the bombers. Police investigators from Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium will work closely together over the coming months to monitor anarchist groups 

Investigators are focusing on the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) group, described as a small, loosely affiliated bunch unlikely to have more than "12 or 15 people" (although some place it as high as 350) and while they have a very low level of organization, are considered dangerous because they are unpredictable. 

There were dozens of such groups in Italy, but "Red Bologna" has a university with 100,000 students along with left-wing labor and political groups, that sympathize with the group's anti-EU stance. The Italian press is drawing connections between these anarchist organizations, other extremist groups and Italy's old 'Red Brigades', with the possibility that they are working together towards coordinated operations.

The letter-bomb campaign began when a package exploded in the hands of European Commission President and former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, who was at his home in Bolonga for the holidays. Two days after two time bombs exploded and started a small fire outside of the European Commission president's house on December 21, the anarchist group admitted in a letter to left-leaning Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica that it had planted the bombs to "hit at the apparatus of control that is repressive and leading the democratic show that is the new European order." Yet an FAI communiqu sent to Anarchist websites dated December 28th condemned the use of letter bombs and denied that they sent them.

Waves of letter bombs in a relatively short time window are rare events. In December 1996, three letter bombs were sent to Fort Leavenworth Prison and five letter bombs (disguise as musical Christmas cards) were discovered at the National Press Building office of the Arab-language Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper (mere blocks from the White House). Four identical bombs were discovered in New York City, as well as four in London, England (only one bomb in England went off, wounding two). The letter bombs appear to have originated from Alexandria, Egypt, and were all post-marked December 21, 1996. Ultimately, Islamic Jihad members trained in Yemen were fingered for these attempted attacks.

These sort of bombs don't require a great deal of specialized knowledge to build, since the plans have been around in publications like the "Anarchist Cookbook" for the last four decades. The Prodi bomb contained a flammable powder connected to a chemical detonator. However, even simple plans require competent construction to work consistently. - Adam Geibel

'Fathers of Anarchy', a historical background online at: 

Anarchism in Action: Methods, Tactics, Skills, and Ideas, online at:


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