October 22 Circle

Formed1969
Disbanded1971
First AttackApril 12, 1970: October 22 Circle unsuccessfully attempted to bomb the US consulate in Genoa (0 killed).[1]
Last AttackMarch 26, 1971: Two October 22 Circle members attempted to rob an affordable housing organization in Genoa, accidentally killing an employee (1 killed).[2]
UpdatedApril 16, 2012

Narrative Summary

The October 22 Circle was one of the first of several Italian leftist terrorist groups. The group was small and short-lived, never attracting more than a few dozen followers or expanding beyond its original base in Genoa. It was active for only two years before most of its members were arrested. 

The original core of the group consisted of six Genovese friends. Their leader, Mario Rossi, had become concerned with the workers' struggle after working in a factory in Milan, where student and worker protests were becoming more frequent and violent through the late 1960s.[3] Rossi returned to his home town of Genoa and began discussing the need to organize the workers with a group of like-minded friends. 

In 1969, they decided to take up arms to defend the worker movement and to prevent a fascist takeover. The friends' decision to mobilize was reinforced by the December 1969 bombing in Milan's Piazza Fontana by right-wing groups with suspected links to the state.[4] The October 22 Circle focused its attacks on symbolic targets, aiming to avoid civilian casualties. It targeted mostly state and corporate property, with the selection often tailored to specific grievances, such as when the group bombed an oil refinery to protest high gas prices.[5] 

The group rapidly disintegrated after Rossi accidentally shot a man dead during an attempted armed robbery. Rossi was apprehended fleeing the scene; his arrest led to the discovery of the warehouse the stored the October 22 Group's weapons and revolutionary writings.[6]  

The group did not use the name October 22 Circle itself. The media named the group after the date on a train ticket found in leader Rossi's pocket after his arrest.[7]

Leadership

  1. Mario Rossi (1969 to 1971): Founded the October 22 Circle. He was a Genoa taxidermist and former Communist. He was arrested and put on trial after accidentally shooting and killing a man during a robbery attempt in 1971.[8]

Ideology & Goals

The October 22 Circle sought to organize the proletariat to defend against a feared fascist coup but had no clear proactive goal.[9] Most members of the October 22 Circle were disaffected former members of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) who viewed the party as ineffective and insufficiently revolutionary.[10] The group did not explicitly seek to overthrow the state, unlike later groups of the Italian militant left.[11]

Size Estimates

Resources

The October 22 Circle sought financial self-sufficiency. At first it supported itself with members' own money but soon began raising funds with robberies, kidnapping for ransom, and donations of arms from the owner of a gun store.[13] It stored its arms and documents in a rented warehouse in central Genoa, which authorities discovered in 1971.[14]

External Influences

The October 22 Circle was influenced by 1960s leftist guerrilla movements worldwide, especially Latin American revolutionaries in Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay, as well as the Viet Cong.[15]

Targets & Tactics

The October 22 Circle at first discussed conducting guerilla warfare from the mountains north of Genoa, but soon embraced urban guerilla warfare. They used a manual written by Brazilian revolutionary Carlos Marighella as their guide.[16] They also spread propaganda through hijacked state radio and television waves.[17]

October 22 Circle attempted to bomb symbols of state power and capitalism, including an oil refinery and police barracks. The choice of such targets was tied to specific grievances such as rising gas prices.[18] The group was also accused of two failed bombing attempts, one against a socialist political party and one against the US Embassy, but members later denied involvement.[19] The group planted bombs at night, both to avoid detection and to minimize the likelihood of civilian casualties.[20] 

The group carried out no targeted assassinations, unlike later leftist terrorist groups; its one killing was an accidental result of a failed robbery attempt.[21] 

The group committed one kidnapping to raise funds through ransom.[22]  

Political Activities

Many members of the October 22 Circle were former members of the Italian Communist Party (PCI). They left the PCI disillusioned over its reformist stance and its perceived inability to challenge state power.[23] 

Members of the October 22 Circle lived openly in Genoa and participated in protests and distributed propaganda leaflets.[24] On a few occasions they also spread propaganda by hijacking state radio and television waves.[25]

Major Attacks

  1. April 12, 1970: October 22 Circle members are accused of a failed attempted bombing of the US consulate in Genoa (0 killed).[26]
  2. October 5, 1970: Three October 22 Circle members kidnapped the son of a wealthy industrialist for ransom in Genoa. It was the first kidnapping perpetrated by the Italian terrorist left. They released him in exchange for a ransom payment on October 11. (0 killed).[27]
  3. February 18, 1971: October 22 Circle members bombed an oil refinery. (0 killed).[28]
  4. March 26, 1971: Two October 22 Circle members attempted to rob an affordable housing organization in Genoa and accidentally killed an employee. (1 killed).[29]

Relationships with Other Groups

The October 22 Circle collaborated with the Genoa branch of the larger left-wing terrorist organization Partisan Action Groups (GAP), beginning in 1970. GAP supported the October 22 Circle by facilitating its illegal propaganda broadcasts over state airwaves and may have assisted it financially as well. GAP helped hide one member of the October 22 Circle who fled capture after mistakenly killing a man during an armed robbery. It is not clear whether the two groups coordinated attacks.[30] GAP tended to limit its contacts with the October 22 Group out of concern about the group's discipline, however.

GAP absorbed the remainder of the October 22 Circle after most of its members were jailed.[31] GAP was itself later absorbed by the BR.[32] 

The October 22 Circle disintegrated by 1971, but its members' imprisonment became a famous cause for other terrorist leftist groups. The BR kidnapped the Genoa magistrate who had prosecuted October 22 Circle members, and demanded their release in exchange for the magistrate's freedom.[33] A court at first granted and then blocked the exchange, and the magistrate was released while the eight former October 22 Circle members remained behind bars.[34]

References

  1. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 145. Members have denied involvement in this attack, and no member of October 22 Circle was ever convicted for it.
  2. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  3. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 71.
  4. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 80.
  5. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 80.
  6. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 145.
  7. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 73.
  8. ^ Weinberg, Leonard, and William Lee Eubank. The Rise and Fall of Italian Terrorism. Boulder: Westview Press, 1987. p. 59; Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006.
  9. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 80.
  10. ^ Pisano, Vittorfranco S. Terrorism and Security : the Italian Experience : Report of the Subcommittee On Security and Terrorism of the Committee On the Judiciary, United States Senate. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1984. p. 13 and Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 79.
  11. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 12.
  12. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  13. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 90. and Weinberg, Leonard, and William Lee Eubank. The Rise and Fall of Italian Terrorism. Boulder: Westview Press, 1987. p. 59.
  14. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. pp. 90.
  15. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 81.
  16. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 87.
  17. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 145.
  18. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 80.
  19. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. pp. 91, 145.
  20. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  21. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  22. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  23. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. pp. 79 - 80.
  24. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. pp. 88-89.
  25. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 91.
  26. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 145.
  27. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre; Pisano, Vittorfranco S.
  28. ^ Marino, Antonio. "La banda ‘XXII ottobre’ a Genova e la malavita come terrorismo." Gnosis Rivista Italiana di Intelligence. n. 1/2006. Available: http://www.sisde.it/gnosis%5CRivista6.nsf/servnavig/11?Open&Highlight=2,xxii+ottobre
  29. ^ Pisano, Vittorfranco S. Terrorism and Security : the Italian Experience : Report of the Subcommittee On Security and Terrorism of the Committee On the Judiciary, United States Senate. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1984. p. 77.
  30. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. pp. 101 - 104.
  31. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 104.
  32. ^ Pisano, Vittorfranco S. Terrorism and Security : the Italian Experience : Report of the Subcommittee On Security and Terrorism of the Committee On the Judiciary, United States Senate. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1984. p. 13.
  33. ^ Piano, Paolo. "22 Ottobre" : Un Progetto Di Lotta Armata a Genova (1969-1971). Genova: Annexia, 2005. p. 142.
  34. ^ Paul J. Smith, "The Italian Red Brigades (1969-1984): Political Revolution and Threats to the State," Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency, 2008. p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from http://jeffnorwitz.com/Documents/2%20The%20Italian%20Red%20Brigades.pdf