What links organised crime with the radical right?

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In the 1970s and early 1980s, Italy was plagued by a spate of violence and deadly terrorist attacks – the so-called “Years of Lead” (anni di piombo).

While the violence came from both the radical left and radical right, neo-fascist militant groups like New Order (Ordine Nuovo), National Vanguard (Avanguardia nazionale) and the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari; NAR) made particularly brutal use of violence and terror against their enemies. Right-wing violence culminated in the 1980 Bologna massacre, a terrorist bombing by NAR members at the city’s train station that took the lives of 85 people.

Groups like NAR had help from Italy’s criminal underworld. NAR had links with the Banda della Magliana, a Rome-based criminal outfit, and the two would be involved in protection rackets, arms trafficking and murder together. In the 1970s, the ‘Ndrangheta, a huge organised crime syndicate with its roots in southern Italy, allegedly had links with both New Order and National Vanguard.

These are just a few examples of how the relationship between organised crime and the international radical right – particularly the most extreme and violent fringes of the radical right – is nothing new.

In fact, the trend continues to this day.

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