Ex-president reveals nation allowed bases, free movement for
jihadists in secret pact
Posted: August 18, 2008
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – In an astonishing admission, the former president of
Italy has confirmed his country provided Palestinian terror groups
with sanctuary and the ability to establish internal bases in a
secret pact in which the terrorists pledged not to target Italian interests.
"I always knew, though not by official documents and information kept
from me, about the existence of an agreement based on 'don't harm me
and I won't harm you' between the Italian Republic and organizations
such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the
PLO," Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga revealed in a letter
to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Cossiga was responding to an interview the newspaper conducted last
week with Bassam Abu Sharif, a top Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine, or PFLP, leader who claimed Italy provided his group in
the 1970s with safe haven in a non-aggression pact.
"The terms of the agreement were that the Palestinian organizations
could even maintain armed bases of operation in the country, and they
had freedom of entry and exit without being subject to normal police
controls, because they were 'handled' by the secret services," Cossiga wrote.
Cossiga stated the agreement was approved and directed by former
Italian Premier Aldo Moro, who in 1978 was kidnapped and assassinated
by the Italian terror group the Red Brigades.
At the time of the agreement, Cossiga was serving as Italy's interior
minister. Palestinian groups in the 1970s carried out scores of
attacks targeting European countries.
"During my time as interior minister I learned that PLO people were
holding heavy artillery in their homes and protected by diplomatic
immunity as representatives of the Arab League. I was told not to
worry and I managed to convince them to lay down their heavy
artillery and make do with light weaponry," Cosinga wrote.
The Italian pact apparently didn't work. Palestinian factions are
blamed for several attacks against Italy in the 1970s and 80s,
including an attack at Rome's airport and main synagogue and the
infamous hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. The Rome airport
attack was attributed by some to a breakaway PLO leadership.
Cossinga singles out Palestinian groups as responsible for a 1980
explosion at an Italian train station that killed 85 people and
wounded 200 more. He says it may have been a "work accident" by
Palestinians transporting explosives into Italy.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by
e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.