A young journalist, Federico Gervasoni, has received online threats after reporting on regular meetings of former members of a neo-fascist group, Avanguardia Nazionale, outlawed in 1976. By @AnpiBrescia.

An Italian reporter, Federico Gervasoni, is being targeted online with insults and fascist-style threats from the far right after his newspaper, La Stampa — Italy’s fourth best-selling daily paper — carried an article on the apparent comeback of an old neofascist group, a report that he’d been working on for the past 12 months.

Federico Gervasoni reported on the regular meetings that are taking place monthly in the northern town of Brescia of former members of Avanguardia Nazionale (National Vanguard), a group outlawed in 1976 by the Italian government after a series of arrests among its ranks.

The online article on the La Stampa’s Web page.

Avanguardia Nazionale (AN) was originally founded in 1960 by Stefano Delle Chiaie, an Italian neo-fascist long suspected of having played a major role in some of the darkest phases of Italy’s strategy of tension. The group’s main occupation was initially to break up leftist meetings, with the long-term goal of subverting democracy and bringing about a return to fascism.

The symbol adopted by AN was the Odal (or Othala) rune (ᛟ), the same that was used — inter alia — by a Waffen-SS division during WW2.

The Odal (or Othala) rune

The group was active both at home and abroad. In Italy, AN members were involved in the violent death of a left-wing student, Paolo Rossi, in 1966. The group benefited from donations from a number of big company owners, and had contacts with Italy’s armed forces and security agencies — as revealed by several former members — which allowed them to take part in guerrilla warfare training and explosives handling courses. Between 1962 and 1967, AN was involved in several dozens terror attacks, but its members always managed to avoid conviction.

In January 1970, Avanguardia Nazionale was revamped with a slightly different name and the group established ties with Junio Valerio Borghese’s Fronte Nazionale (National Front) In the summer of the same year, Delle Chiaie fled Italy to avoid being arrested for his involvement in the Piazza Fontana massacre in Milan. He will be at large for 17 years.

Avanguardia Nazionale members, late 1960s.

In December 1970, AN members took part in the failed coup d’état staged by Junio Valerio Borghese.

Outside Italy, AN members were employed as hitmen by South American regimes (Pinochet’s in Chile among others) and by Franco’s fascists in Spain. In 1975, AN mounted a large-scale operation which led to the attempted assassination of Chile’s former vice-president Bernardo Leighton and his wife (both survived with serious injuries) under direct orders from Pinochet, as confirmed later by a former AN member.

Avanguardia Nazionale was disbanded on the order of Italy’s Interior Minister in June 1976, after most of the group’s leaders and members were convicted of having pursued the reconstitution of the outlawed National Fascist Party.

In Brescia, two AN members, Danilo Fadini and Kim Borromeo, were arrested in 1973 after being accused of blowing up the Italian Socialist Party HQ in the city. The northern Italian town ended up paying a high price at the hands of fascist terrorists less than a year later: The long strings of armed attacks and violent assaults convinced the democratic parties, the Trade Unions and the ANPI to call for a large antifascist demonstration, on the 28th of May, 1974. When the rally gathered in the central Piazza della Loggia to listen to the orators, a no-warning bomb placed inside a litter bin went off, killing eight people and wounding more than 100.

The 2016 photo accompanying Gervasoni’s La Stampa article.

Fadini and Borromeo are among the former AN members who are currently taking part in the monthly meetings in Brescia, as Federico Gervasoni reported. In the 2016 photo accompanying Gervasoni’s La Stampa article, they can be seen giving the straight-arm Fascist salute.

Among the other guests, 49-year-old Laura Castagna can be seen smiling (far right in the photo above.) Laura Castagna ran for the mayoral seat in Brescia last June, as a candidate for Azione Sociale/Forza Nuova.

Italy’s Partisans Association ANPI in Brescia pledged its support to the reporter under threat, and invited the President of Italy’s Union of Journalists (FNSI), Beppe Giulietti, to visit Federico Gervasoni in Brescia.

The President of the FNSI Union, Beppe Giulietti, with Federico Gervasoni.

Mr Giulietti promptly accepted our invitation, and travelled to Brescia yesterday, to pledge his support — and that of the FNSI Union and other bodies — to the young reporter.

An invitation was also sent to the city’s Vice Mayor, Laura Castelletti, who also accepted to meet Mr Gervasoni at Brescia City Hall. Mrs Castelletti condemned in the strongest terms the threats received by Federico and expressed to him her solidarity and the support of the Comune and the city.

Vice Mayor Laura Castelletti (second from right) after the meeting at Brescia City Hall.

After Beppe Giulietti’s visit, Federico Gervasoni received the support of several colleagues — including some who received threats in the past either by neo-fascists or criminals — and he was interviewed by the all-news TV channel of Italy’s national broadcaster RAI.

By @AnpiBrescia. Sources: Saverio Ferrari’s 2016 article on Avanguardia Nazionale, Wikipedia.