Red Brigades

From Academic Kids

Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse) is a militant group located in Italy. Formed in 1969, the Marxist-Leninist BR seeks to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle and to separate Italy from the Western Alliance.



Reputed founder of the Red Brigades was Renato Curcio, left-wing student at the University of Trento. In the beginning the Red Brigades were active mainly in Milan and Turin where they claimed to support labor unions against the far right. Members - mainly workers and students - sabotaged factory equipment and broke into factory offices and trade union headquarters. In 1972 they made their first kidnapping, a factory foreman who was held for some time but later released.

After 1974 Red Brigades expanded into Rome, Genoa and Venice and begun to kidnap prominent figures. Its manifesto in 1975 claimed that its goal was a "concentrated strike against the heart of the State, because the state is as an imperialist collection of multinational corporations". It switched its attacks to police and security forces and especially the Italian ruling party, Democrazia Cristiana. In June 1974 Red Brigades made their first lethal attack, against two members of an Italian neo-fascist party, Movimento Sociale Italiano. It practically abandoned its political activities among the workers.

Missing image
Moro, photographed during his detention by the BR

In 1976 Italian police arrested number of its members and killed one. The following year in April, the Red Brigades announced that they had set up a Communist Combatant Party to "guide the working class." Terrorist activities, especially against carabinieri and magistrates, increased considerably to pressure juries to dismiss cases against the imprisoned leaders of the organization. Membership switched from workers to the dominance of students. 1978 the Brigades kidnapped and murdered former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, because he had created a compromise between Italian Communist Party and Democrazia Cristiana.

The murder of Moro began an all-out assault against the Brigades by the Italian law enforcement and security forces. The murder of a popular political figure also drew condemnation from the Italian left-wing radicals and even the imprisoned ex-leaders of the Brigades. Brigades lost most of their social support and the public opinion turned strongly against them. Italian police made a large amount of arrests in 1980.

In 1981 Red Brigades kidnapped US Army Brigadier General James Dozier, who was later rescued by police operation. Italian police arrested number of members, many of who informed on the other members, which led to further arrests.

In 1984 Red Brigades had split into two factions: the majority faction of the Communist Combatant Party (BR-PCC) and the minority of the Union of Combatant Communists (BR-UCC). At the same year, four imprisoned leaders, Curcio, Moretti, Ianelli and Bertolucci, rejected the armed struggle as pointless.

Also in 1984, Red Brigades claimed responsibility for the murder of Leamon Hunt, US chief of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observer Group.

In 1985 some Italian terrorists who had lived in France, returned to Italy. At the same time, arrests increased. In February 1986, the BR-PCC killed the ex-mayor of Florence, and tried to kill Prime Minister's advisor Bettino Craxi. In March 1987, BR-UCC killed General Licio Giorgieri in Rome. On April 16 1988 BR-PCC killed Italian senator Roberto Ruffilli. After that the group activities all but ended after massive arrests of its leadership.

The latest known actions of the Brigades (as of February 2004) are the 1999 murder of Massimo D'Antona, an advisor to the cabinet of near-left Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema. In March 20, 2002 the same gun that was used to kill D'Antona was used to kill professor Marco Biagi, an economic advisor to right-wing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a key figure of Italian labour policies. The Brigades again claimed responsibility. On 3 March 2003 two Followers Mario Galesi and Nadia Desdemona Lioce, started a firefight with a patrol of Police on a train at Terontola Station. Galesi and Emanuele Petri, one of the policemen were killed, Lioce was arrested. In October 23 2003, Italian police arrested six members of Red Brigades in early-dawn raids in Florence, Sardinia, Rome and Pisa in connection with the murder of Massimo D'Antona.


The original group concentrated on assassination and kidnapping of Italian government and business leaders. Their usual modus operandi was to shoot their victims when they were leaving home for the office. The group has been largely inactive since Italian and French authorities arrested many of its members in 1989. With limited resources and followers to carry out major terrorist acts, the group is mostly out of business.


Probably fewer than 50, plus an unknown number of supporters. In addition to two main factions, other offshoots are believed to include the N.A.P. ("Nuclei Armati Proletari", Armed Proletarian Cells) and "Prima Linea" (First Line).

Location/area of operation

Based and operates in Italy. Some members probably live clandestinely in other European countries.

External aid

Currently unknown; original group apparently was self-sustaining but probably received weapons from other Western European militant groups and from the PLO.

Added to the Original source: Terrorist Group Profiles, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School.

External links

en:Red Brigades fr:Brigades rouges he:הבריגדות האדומות it:Brigate Rosse nl:Rode Brigades sv:Rda Brigaderna


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