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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, Italy went through a period of terrorist activity. This chapter assesses the rise of terrorist groups, such as the Red Brigades, their sustained success, and their eventual demise. Terrorism involved groups from the extreme right as well as the extreme left. Neo-fascist groups tended to target civilians in highly symbolic attacks, while leftist groups focused on attacks against representatives of the state or specific individuals. The development of terrorism cannot be understood without taking into account the international and domestic political contexts, and the ways in which different groups’ actions and goals intersected with each other and with the strategies of political actors. Terrorism left a heavy legacy: justice has been partial and truth has proven elusive, in particular regarding the state’s possible collusion in terrorism. The continuing existence of mutually exclusive narratives of the period shows how the politics of memory remains highly controversial.

Keywords: terrorism, neo-fascism, justice, state collusion, Red Brigades, politics of memory

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