Prosecutors in Italy have arrested 19 members at the core of a far-reaching, right-wing political network which was reportedly planning attacks on centre-left politicians.
Pictures released by the authorities have showed the arsenal of small arms and explosives uncovered during raids on the members of the neo-Nazi cell, led by prosecutors in Calranissetta, Sicily.
According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, among those targeted in the raids was a member of Calabria's shadowy and powerful 'Ndrangheta crime family.
The man, the Italian media said, was well-known to police and had turned informant after becoming a kind of paramilitary instructor to the group. A number of centre-left politicians had been identified by the neo-Nazi network as possible targets of domestic terror.
Also among those swept up in the police raids were a 50-year-old civil servant from the north-eastern Italian city of Padua – the group’s leader – and a 26-year-old woman from Milan who had won a “Miss Hitler” pageant. In pictures the woman is seen to have extensive tattooing across her back of a Nazi eagle with a swastika in is talons.
The neo-Nazi network, which was uncovered during a police operation called the “Black Shadow,” also had ambitions to launch an openly pro-Nazi party in Italy. It intended to advance a xenophobic, racist agenda through what it would call the “Italian Nationalist Socialist Workers’ Party”.
The group, which had members from 15 towns and cities across Italy, had also made contact with international white supremacist and neo-Nazi organisations. In August this year one member of the network had been involved with a far-right transnational conference in Lisbon.
The crackdown in Italy on the neo-Nazi cell follows a police raid on a similar cell in Turin in July. Among a huge arsenal of weapons and Nazi memorabilia uncovered in the raid targeting three men, authorities also uncovered a large air-to-air missile in its original wooden crate stamped “State of Qatari”.