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Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA)

LEADER(S): Unknown

YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1995

ESTIMATED SIZE: Approximately twenty

USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Italy (primarily the northeastern part of Italy and near U.S. military bases in the northern part of the country)

OVERVIEW

The Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA, or in the Italian language, Nuclei Territoriali Antimperialisti) is a group of Marxist-Leninist terrorists headquartered in the northeastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy. The group operates primarily out of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, along with the northeastern Italian region of Veneto and the north-central region of Emilia-Romagna. The NTA has been known to extend its violence further south into central Italy. Some of its aliases include Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei for the Construction of the Fighting Communist Party, Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei-Combatant Communist Party, and Anti-Imperialist Territorial Units.

The NTA uses as its logo an encircled five-point star, which is based on the symbol of the historically well-known terrorist group Red Brigades (BR). As stated in the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) article, which is dated May 21, 2004, and entitled "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA)," the group is dedicated to developing an "anti-imperialist fighting front." The ideology of the NTA is based on the objective of class struggle; that is, it intends to eventually replace the present Italian government with one based on the rule of the working class (or proletariat). NTA members primarily bomb Italian political and commercial buildings and related materials and symbols of value, but since 2002 made plans to attack and murder people within the Italian government and the commercial sector, both in Italy and within the region of the European Union (EU).

HISTORY

The left-wing extremist group NTA was first organized in 1995 in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. The NTA was initially formed to mirror the famed Marxist-Leninist terrorist Red Brigades. By taking on the symbolism, language, ideology, and other important characteristics of the Red Brigades, leaders of the NTA hoped to eventually combine with its successor group, the Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party (BR-PCC, sometimes also called the New Red Brigades).

According to the article "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei for the Construction of the Fighting Communist Party" (which was last updated June-July 2005) by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), the date of the group's first attack is unknown. Thus, for the four years between 1995 and 1999, its scattered actions were just being noticed by Italian police officials.

By the year 1999, however, the NTA was well known by Italian law enforcement officials to be actively spreading its violence in northern Italy. For instance, during the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) intervention in Kosovo, NTA members threw gasoline bombs at the Rome and Venice headquarters of the Democrats of the Left, which at that time was the controlling party of the Italian government. The violence by the NTA was done to protest NATO's military and later peacekeeping actions in Kosovo after the extremist Albanian group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), took violent actions against the Serbian government with the purpose to make Kosovo an independent state.

On September 15, 2000, the NTA conducted its first coordinated attack when two separate NTA groups planted and detonated bombs at the Institute for Foreign Trade and at the office of the Central European Initiative, both in Trieste, Italy. The group declared itself responsible for both attacks. Then, on August 9, 2001, the NTA successfully bombed the Venice Law Courts/Tribunal Building, also publicly claiming responsibility for the incident. However, on January 8, 2002, its raid on the Rivolto Military Air Base was stopped when police officers prevented four NTA members from gaining access to the base.

The Center for Defense Information (CDI), in its article "In the Spotlight: The Nuclei Territoriali Antimperialisti (NTA)" (March 3, 2005), states that in January 2002 Italian law enforcement agencies acquired leaflets NTA leaflets that identified officials of the Italian government that NTA members were targeting for assassination. The specific four government sectors whose members were targets included Federalism, Jobs and Pensions, Justice Reform, and Privatizations. This public announcement was the first indication received by Italian law enforcement officials that the NTA had changed its policy of targeting only property to one that targeted both property and personnel.

Then in 2002, the CDI reported that many terrorism experts were under the opinion that even though the NTA had been trying for years to merge with the BR-CCP, little had been accomplished over the previous seven years. CDI researchers stated that there was no visible link between the three major leftist Italian extremist groups: the NTA, BR-PCC, and NIPR (Revolutionary Proletarian Initiative Nuclei). The CDI report further declared that a future consolidation was unlikely to occur.

On the other hand, in the same CDI report, its researchers had found other experts who contended that these three left-wing extremist groups had already merged together. With such differing opinions, researchers from the CDI concluded that, along with information gathered from Italian government and law enforcement agencies, the three groups were at times joining forces with respect to their individual operations but were most likely not in a position in the near future to formally merge together or even to jointly plan attacks of any major significance.

In 2003, the NTA claimed responsibility for three arson attacks against U.S. Army vehicles and personnel at the Aviano and Ederle military bases in Italy.

Throughout its existence, the majority of NTA activities were limited to small-scale attacks against government buildings, properties, and symbols in Italy and the European Union, along with U.S. air bases in both regions. According to the article "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA) a.k.a. Anti-Imperialist Territorial Units" (which was written between January 2004 and August 2005) by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC, which is under the direction of the U.S. Department of State), there has been no reported activity by the group since January 2004, at which time the arrest of its founder and leader occurred. (The leader's name had not been released to the public as of November 2005.)

According to the MIPT article, there have been no known attacks by the NTA in 2005. As of 2005, as reported within the CDI article, no known convictions or arrests have ever been made of any members of the NTA. In addition, there is no known information that supports the contention that the NPT is provided outside financial or material assistance in carrying out its terrorist activities.

PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS

The goals and ideology of the NTA are to change Italy into a proletarian state (that is, one ruled by working class people with a Marxist economic system). Since the group is primarily a communistic/socialistic-type group, it is against the philosophy of free-market capitalism, especially the political and economic policies (what it calls imperialism) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States. It also denounces and condemns Italy's economic, foreign relations, and labor policies. In addition, the leaders of the NTA are opposed to the country of Israel and its Jewish citizens.

KEY EVENTS

1995:
NTA is formed.
1999:
During the NATO intervention in Kosovo, NTA members bomb the Venice and Rome headquarters of the then-ruling party, Democrats of the Left.
2000:
NTA makes its first coordinated attack on the Institute for Foreign Trade and on the Central European Initiative, both in Triest.
2001:
NTA bombs the Venice Law Courts/Tribunal Building.
2002:
NTA's raid on the Rivolto Military Air Base is prevented by police.
2002:
Italian law enforcement officials acquire NTA leaflets identifying officials in the Italian government as assassination targets.
2003:
NTA claims responsibility for three attacks against U.S. Army vehicles and personnel at military bases in Italy.
2004:
The NTA's leader is reportedly arrested.

Much of the philosophy, propaganda, and symbolism of the NTA have been directly derived from the older terrorist group, the Red Brigades. The historically well-known left-wing terrorist organization Red Brigades worked under a Marxist-Leninist ideology in Italy during the 1970s and early 1980s. Like the NTA, the Red Brigades also attempted to overthrow the Italian democratic government in order to replace it with its own governmental system. The currently operating offshoot of the Red Brigades is called the Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party (BR-CCP) or simply the New Red Brigades. The NTA has been frequently linked to the BR-CCP.

To achieve its goals the NTA has bombed or otherwise attacked various Italian governmental and political sites, as well as U.S., NATO, and European Union targets in Italy. The NTA has also threatened Italian leaders with assassination. The NTA often plants pamphlets or group paraphenalia at the scenes of its attacks in order to claim responsibility for them and increase their visibility.

The NTA is thought to be interested in uniting Italy's various left-wing extremist organizations into a single group, including such ally organizations as the New Red Brigades and the NIPR. According to the MIPT article, leaders of the NTA have devoted much effort and spent large amounts of money on activities to merge its group with other left-wing extremist groups in Italy. CDI researchers believe that the NTA hope to join forces with the BR-PCC in order to create a stronger, larger, and more technically advanced extremist group. With such an alliance, CDI officials contend that the NIPR would also merge with the NTA/BR-PCC because it is already allied with the BR-PCC. In theory a single, larger, group would be better able to carry out the NTA's goals of attacking (and eventually overthrowing) the Italian government and U.S. and European Union interests in Italy.

The MIPT believes that the NTA is part of a cohesive network of Marxist-Leninist groups in Italy. Other experts contend that the NPT acts alone or in a loose alliance with other similar groups. However organized—either as an individual group or part of a larger group—the NTP has cooperated with other Italian extremist groups over the years. These coordinated efforts have resulted in increased violence, including murders and assassinations of high-ranking officials.

OTHER PERSPECTIVES

Because it models itself after the Red Brigades, most extremist group and terrorism experts view the philosophy of the NTA as being very similar to the classical form of communism that was practiced after the Russian Revolution of 1917—rather than the modern version of communism that is seen in the twenty-first century.

In fact, according to the CDI article, the NTA does not promote any new or relevant issues that are currently popular in Italy. The Italian chief public prosecutor Guido Papalia, according to the MIPT article, reiterated this belief when he stated that the NTA had not in the past nor does it currently (as of 2005) recognize modern-day protests such as extreme-leftist arguments against expanding globalization and the practices of the European Union.

SUMMARY

Since it was formed in 1995, the NTA has been carrying out minor terrorist attacks, especially in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia (or Tri-Veneto) region in northeastern Italy. The rate of violent activities by the NTA has steadily increased nearly every year of its existence. When it was discovered in 2002 that leaders of the NTA were changing their tactics to include the killing of people rather than just the destruction of property, Italian government officials were concerned that the group would step up its terrorist activities. However, little increase in terror activities was actually seen.

Experts at the CDI have concluded, as of early 2005, that the threat from NTA members to the Italian government, its European interests, and to U.S. and European Union interests is "fairly limited." The CDI further concluded that such a limited threat to the Italian government and to Italy in general will most likely remain in the future unless the NTA merges with the Red Brigades-Combatant Communist Party.

As of 2005, several experts within organizations that track the activities of the NTA have given its membership a range from one to 20, but the majority of reports hold its members at the higher number. It is currently unclear if the NTA has merged or intends to merge in the near future with the BR-PCC or with other leftist extremist groups in Italy. However, its limited activities tend to show that it has not merged with such groups.

PRIMARY SOURCE
Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA) a.k.a. Anti-Imperialist Territorial Units

DESCRIPTION

The NTA is a clandestine leftist extremist group that first appeared in Italy's Friuli region in 1995. Adopted the class struggle ideology of the Red Brigades of the 1970s and 1980s and a similar logo—an encircled five-point star—for their declarations. Seeks the formation of an "anti-imperialist fighting front" with other Italian leftist terrorist groups, including Revolutionary Proletarian Initiative Nuclei and the New Red Brigades. Opposes what it perceives as US and NATO imperialism and condemns Italy's foreign and labor polices. In a leaflet dated January 2002, NTA identified experts in four Italian Government sectors—federalism, privatizations, justice reform, and jobs and pensions—as potential targets.

ACTIVITIES

To date, NTA has conducted attacks only against property. During the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999, NTA members threw gasoline bombs at the Venice and Rome headquarters of the then-ruling party, Democrats of the Left. NTA claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in September 2000 against the Central European Initiative office in Trieste and a bomb attack in August 2001 against the Venice Tribunal building. In January 2002, police thwarted an attempt by four NTA members to enter the Rivolto Military Air Base. In 2003, NTA claimed responsibility for the arson attacks against three vehicles belonging to US troops serving at the Ederle and Aviano bases in Italy. There has been no reported activity by the group since the arrest in January 2004 of NTA's founder and leader.

STRENGTH

Accounts vary from one to approximately 20 members.

LOCATION/AREA OF OPERATION

Primarily northeastern Italy and near US military installations in northern Italy.

EXTERNAL AID

None evident.

Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.

SOURCES

Periodicals

"Italian Northeast Seen as Fertile Recruitment Ground for Terrorism." BBC. March 24, 2002.

Web sites

Federation of American Scientists. "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA)." 〈http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/nta.htm〉 (accessed August 1, 2005).

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT). "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei for the Construction of the Fighting Communist Party." 〈http://tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=16〉 (accessed August 1, 2005).

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). "Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA) a.k.a. Anti-Imperialist Territorial Units." 〈http://www.ds-osac.org/Groups/group.cfm?contentID=1306〉 (accessed September 25, 2005).

SEE ALSO

Red Brigades (Br)

Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)

Anti-Imperialist Territorial Nuclei (NTA)

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