The suspects, who reportedly had access to weapons and were recruiting followers on social media, allegedly wanted to found a Nazi party in Italy. Raids, called “Operation Black Shadows”, were conducted in several cities across the country.
The Italian authorities have raided the homes of 19 suspected extremists in several cities who allegedly planned to set up a xenophobic and anti-Semitic group, the Italian news agency ANSA reports. According to the investigators, cited by the outlet, the organisation would be called the Italian National Socialist Workers' Party (Partito Nazionalsocialista Italiano dei Lavoratori) with the motto “Invisible, Silent and Lethal”. Such parties have been outlawed in Italy since the 1950s.
The country’s anti-mafia and anti-terrorism forces had been investigating the group, linked to similar organisations in the UK, Portugal, Spain, and Greece, for two years.
Italian law enforcement’s so-called “Operation Black Shadows” saw searches carried out in 16 cities across the country, including Milan, Turin, Padua, and Verona. Reports say that some suspects “had a vast amount of weapons and explosives at their disposal” and tried to recruit new followers on social media, posting anti-Semitic materials. The list of items discovered during the operation includes automatic weapons, rifles, bulletproof vest, grenades, explosives, crossbows, and swords as well as training materials teaching how to target Jews and gay people.
The haul of hate artefacts contains Nazi and fascist memorabilia, featuring swastikas as well as portraits of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
It has not been reported how many people have been arrested. According to ANSA, those implicated in the investigation include a senior figure of the “Ndrangheta” mafia, based in Calabria, who is reportedly an ex-convict and former state witness. He allegedly set up a connection with neo-Nazis outside Italy and started a chat group on military training.
Among the suspects is also a 50-year-old administration worker from Padua, who has no criminal record, unlike her alleged accomplice. The woman, called "Hitler's Sergeant Major", was reportedly a senior member of the group.
Another suspect is a young Sicilian who made headlines as “Miss Hitler”, as the 26-year-old won a namesake contest on the social media network VK.
Update: one of the 19 neo-nazi members investigated today in #Italy is a Francesca Rizzi: she has won the "Miss Hitler" online contest on VK (#Russia's social network).— MrRevinsky (@Kyruer) 28 ноября 2019 г.
Last year she took part to a far-right conference in #Lisbon (pic 4: infographic of the event). pic.twitter.com/lQV0um3KZp
The reports about the organisation have left netizens terrified.
Has the whole world gone utterly nuts? #nonazis#italyhttps://t.co/CqjZ83KIOu— Andreas Coerper (@aCoerper_Mainz) 30 ноября 2019 г.
THIS is terrifyinghttps://t.co/RkmvLr6G1v— BJ Doucet (@1celticwomyn) 30 ноября 2019 г.
I didn't know there was a thing as an Italian jew, nor did I know that was happening in Italy. They didn't teach us that in history. https://t.co/wx5TobWw41— Jackalope (@JackalopeBunny) 29 ноября 2019 г.