The New York Times, March 1, 1981
TRACING THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
Four well-groomed men bearing sawed-off shotguns approach a car on a busy street in Milan; bullets rip through the body of the passenger, chief of one of the city's largest hospitals. The Red Brigades, the nation's most-feared terrorist group, claims responsibility. In Northern Ireland, a band of armed men uses explosives to blast its way into the castle of Sir Norman Stronge, an 86-year-old Protestant leader and longtime speaker of Northern Ireland's Parliament; the bodies of Sir Norman and his son, James, 48 years old, are found later, bullets through their heads, and guerillas of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) say it was their work.
Such incidents -- these two within the last few weeks --are the stuff of everyday headlines. But last month, at his first news conference as Secretary of State, Alexander M. Haig, Jr. made them the focus of diplomatic confrontation. He warned that international terrorism had become "rampant," and he charged the Soviet Union with consciously seeking to "foster, support and expand" terrorists activities around the world. Specifically, he accused Moscow of "training, funding and equipping" those who kill for politcal profit.
The reaction to Secretary Haig's charges was in many ways predictable. The Soviet Union called such talk "a gross and malicious deception" and insisted that the "control center of international terrorism" was, in fact, the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Journalists who interviewed Government intelligence experts -- including some C.I.A. aides -- quoted officials to the effect that there was no hard evidence to support Mr. Haig's accusations. And many Americans shook their heads despairingly at what sounded to them like nothing more than an old cold warrior's refrain, a broadside political attack against a safe and familiar target.
Until a few years ago, I might have been among those head-shakers. Generations of Americans, raised on Depression fare, find it hard to shake off a belief in the aspirations of the political left. But I have spent the last two and a half years researching leftist terrorists groups, talking to government officials and police in 10 countries from Sweden to Lebanon, examining court records and interviews in the public prints. I now know better. There is massive proof that the Soviet Union and its surrogates, over the last decade, have provided the weapons, training and sanctuary for a worldwide terror network aimed at the destabilization of Western democratic society.
The network, as described by dozens of captured terrorists and volumes of courtroom testimony, consists of a multitude of disparate terrorist groups, helping out one another and receiving indispensable aid from not altogether disinterested outsiders.
A few years ago, the C.I.A. reported that more than 140 such terrorist bands from 50-odd countries on four continents were linked in one way or another.
One example: On July 26, 1974, a customs inspector at the Orly airport in Paris discovered that Yutaka Furuya, a passenger on a flight from Beirut was carrying several forged passports, $10,000 in counterfeit money and papers tying him to the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. It turned out he was on his way from a Palestinian base in Lebanon to kidnap a wealthy Japanese businessman in West Germany, and that he was to have logistic support from the German Red Army Faction.
After his arrest, fellow
Japanese terrorists occupied the French Embassy in The Hague and
demanded Furuya's release. They used explosives stolen by a Swiss
anarchist group from a military depot in Zurich, and they were directed
by Carlos the Jackal, a Venezuelan who was running terrorist operations
in Europe for George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of
Such connections within the terrorist network have long been evident. What is now beginning to emerge is the degree to which the links in this network have been purposefully forged -- and continue to be maintained -- by the Soviet Union and its two chief proxies in this regard, Cuba and and the Palestinians.
Not until Secretary Haig's charges, and a similar statement a day earlier by the President of Italy, Alessandro Petrini, had any Western government publicly accused Moscow of a major role in fostering the network. Most of the governments under siege are still reluctant to do so. They are unwilling to risk their relationship with Moscow - or with the oil-rich nations supporting the Palestinian connections of the network. They also seem to want conclusive proof that the Soviet Union has created and is the phantom master-mind of these terrorist bands.
It's not that simple. Such direct control of the terrorist groups was never the Soviet intention. All are indigenous to their countries. All began as offshoots of relatively nonviolent movements that expressed particular political, economic, religious or ethnic grievances.
Moreover, some of the support Moscow hands out in the third world goes to anticolonial groups that are militant but not terrorist. Time and again, however, authentic left-wing liberation movements slip over the line from organized resistance to terrorist violence. That line is hard to define, as is the very concept of terrorism itself. Lenin's definition -- "the purpose of terror is to terrorize" -- is a useful beginning. The terrorist uses violenc not to punish the victim but to intimidate the audience, to impose his political will by force when he cannot achieve it by democratic means.
The heart of the Russians' strategy is to provide the terrorist network with the goods and services necessary to undermine the industrialized democracies of the West. More than half of the international terrorist attacks since 1968, according to the C.I.A., have taken place in Western Europe and North America. The most deadly have come in a strategic crescent from Turkey westward through Italy and up to Ireland. And, as Italy's Red Brigades have made clear, the ultimate objective is "the supreme symbol of multinational imperialism," the United States.
It is not happenstance that none of the major terrorist attacks have been directed against the Soviet Union or any of its satellites or client states.
Some terrorist bands have suffered their share of setbacks in the last year or two. In Turkey, for example. "The Anarchy" -- the warfare between left and right terrorists that accounted for 4,000 deaths in 1980 -- has almost ground to a halt since the new military regime took over. More than 21,000 alleged terrorists, more or less evenly split between left and right, have been jailed. In Spain, estimates of the number of hard-core Basque terrorists in Eurkad ta Askatasuna (E.T.A.) remain at between 100 and 200, but there have been signs of public disenchantment. Early last month, the murder of a nuclear engineer led to widespread antiterrorist protests; a few days later, however, the demonstrations turned in E.T.A.'s favor after a suspected terrorist died while being held by police.
Still, it is dangerous to draw conclusions from apparent symptons of weakness in the terrorist network. Public knowledge of the workings of a particular terrorist band usually comes from one that is in trouble, whose members have been arrested and are talking. Moreover, some terrorist groups have flourished during these same years; the Provisional I.R.A., for example, has been able to maintain between 200 and 250 fully armed members in spite of the growing war-weariness within its Roman Catholic constituency.
The network, with Moscow's aid, has come a long way in the last decade. Once dependent upon large numbers of ill-equipped amateurs untrained in modern guerrilla tactics, the network is now in large measure made up of professionals, superbly trained, moving about the world in yachts and helicopters, flush with money picked up in multi-milliondollar kidnappings and bank robberies, armed with walkie-talkies, electronic eavesdropping devices -- and even heat-seeking, groundto-air Strela missiles. They have strings of safe houses at home and established getaway routes to assured sanctuaries abroad. It takes only a handful of them to paralyze a nation. .
The roots of the terrorist network can be traced directly to the Tricontinental Congress held in Havana in January 1966. More than 500 delegates passed resolutions emphasizing the need for close collaboration between "Socialist countries" --i.e., the Soviet Union and its satellites -- and "national liberation movements." Significantly, resolutions covered not only third-world groups but also "democratic workers and student movements" of Western Europe and North America. The delegates' purpose, they said, was to devise "a global revolutionary strategy of American imperialism."
It was, unmistakably, a call for a Guerrilla International. And the call was heeded. Ten months later, a new cluster of more than a dozen training camps for guerilla fighters from all over the world was opened in Cuba. the man in charge was Col. Vadim Kotchergin of the K.G.B. It was the first major move by the Soviet Union in the emergence of the Guerrilla International.
To be sure, Fidel Castro had been operating his own schools for guerrillas since 1961, starting with recruits from Latin America and Africa. By 1964, Palestinians and Europeans had joined the ranks. But the addition of Colonel Kotchergin's camps added a new dimension. The men who were trained in these camps provided the first generation of leadership for the terrorist decade to come.
The stage was set in 1968, that amazing year when, from Berkeley to Tokyo, a generation born after the last great war declared its own war on society in a brief but stunning show of strength. The whole planet seemed to be lurching leftward toward revolution. Then, it wasover, and the vast majority who had lived through the experience left it behind. But many of those with a true vocation had found one another.
These beginners knew nothing of the terrorist trade; they lacked money, weapons, fast getaway routes and safe heavens abroad. We will never know how far they might have gone on their own, because they were never really left ontheir own. By 1970, any aspiring terrorist band could count on Cuba or the Palestinian resistance.The revolutionary decade of the 1960's had been focused in Latin America as Fidel Castro preached his gospel of spontaneous, popular revolution. But that vision had faded as the Soviet presence in Cuba increased, and now the fulcrum of revolution had moved to the Middle East.
The Palestinians now had their own camps for foreigners. Starting in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, they spread over the decade to South Yemen and then down into Moscow's new African client states, Angola and Mozambique. The Palestinians also set up such camps in Algeria and in Libya, with the help of Libyan money and literally billions of dollars' worth of Soviet armament. Cubans taught in most of these camps, East Germans in many, North Koreans in some.
It was in South Yemen, however --by then a Soviet satellite state tightly controlled by the K.G.B. -- that a kind of postgraduate school in international terrorism emerged. The list of foreign guests in the camps around Aden included members of West Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang, Italy's Red Brigades, the Basque E.T.A., the Provisional I.R.A., the Japanese Red Army, the Tupamaros of Uruguay and the Turkish and Iranian undergrounds.
For most of them, the hosts were George Habash and his military commander, Wadi Haddad, of the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was this group, more than any other among the half-dozen in the Palestine resistance, that was most committed to internationalizing the struggle with Israel. The group's strategy: to develop a multinational terrorist hit team that would force their cause upon the world's attention. One early operation, carried out jointly with El Fatah through Black September, was massacre at the Olympic Games in Munic in 1972. Soon, however, the Habash-Haddad front, operating out of Aden, went its own way. Among its missions: The raid on a meeting in Vienna of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in December 1975 in which 11 Arab oil ministers were taken hostage; the occupation of the French Embassy in the Netherlands in September 1975; the destruction of the West German Embassy in Stockholm in February 1976; the hijacking of a French plane to Entebbe in June 1976 and of a Lufthansa plane to Mogadishu in Somalia in October 1977.
A second major watershet in Moscow's support of the terrorist network came after the October War of 1973. For the first time, the Arab military performance was impressive enough to persuade leaders such as the P.L.O.'s Yasir Arafat that there was some chance of a diplomatic road to peace. The most intransigent foes of a negotiated settlement with Israel reacted by forming the Palestine Rejection Front. And the Soviet Union, committed to an anti-Israel policy, began to lavish ever-greater financial and logistical support on the rejectionists.
The Cubans started arriving in large numbers to train guerrillas in the Middle East. At the same time, Moscow organized extensive military and guerrilla coursesfor the Palestinians -- in the Soviet Union and in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. By 1977 more than 50 such courses a year were running in the Soviet bloc, 40 of them within the Soviet Union itself, involving thousands of guerrilla cadets. In addition, all the Palestinian guerrilla formations -- totaling more than 16,000 men -- are today wholly armed with Soviet-bloc weapons.
Throughout this period, the Russians insisted that such support of the Palestinian cause was simply a matter of supporting an indigenous liberation movement; they have denied any connection between that support and any international terrorist activities. In reality, however, there has been a straight transfer of terrorist skills and equipment from Moscow tothe Palestine resistance to the terrorists of Europe and beyond, with the knowledge and assistance of the Russians themselves.
Soviet-bloc arms were being shipped from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, then transhipped to Western European terrorists through a Bulgarian staging post or via Libya. (The imprisoned co-founder of Italy's Front Line, Fabrizio Giai, said: "Never -- never! -- could the Palestinians have delivered Kalashnikovs and other Soviet-bloc weapons to us or anybody else without the Soviet Union's permission.") And priviledged sanctuaries for German, Spanish and Italian terrorists were sprouting up all over Eastern Europe. Four German terrorists wanted for the 1977 kidnapping and murder of the industrialist Hanns-Martin Schlever, for example, were tracked down by West German detectives taking sunbaths on a beach in Bulgaria. Top Italian terrorists were practically commuting to Prague. And the movement of personnel and tactics between and among the Russians, the Palestinians and the individual national terrorist groups was growing ever greater and more sophisticated.
The record of Soviet involvement with the terrorist network is clear, as in the case histories of the three target nations cited below.
Masked gunmen burst into cafes. "Are you rightist or leftist?" they would demand, and then slaughter one side or the other -- or both. Anybody sitting at a ground-floor wndow, watching television, became fair game for the terrorists. Entire cities took sides: Erzrum, near Turkey's border with Iran, was rightist; Kars, on the Russian border, was leftist. One dared not journey from to the other.
In 1977, 250 political murders were committed in Turkey; in 1979, the number reached 1,500, last year it climbed above 4,000 -- the world's worst case of raging terrorist warefare. Not untilthe army took over power last summer and started its massive arrests of suspect terrorists did the bloodshed begin to diminish.
There were a host of logical reasons for the violence in Turkey. A closed, medieval Islamic society had been suddenly transformed by Kemal Ataturk's post-World War I revolution,swept into the modern age, but political corruption had rotted the beginnings of parliamentary government. Endemic poverty and a 50 percent youth unemployment had stirred textbook urban unrest. Leftist revolutionary groups appeared. But the explanation for the burst of terrorism in Turkey is to be found elsewhere: in the Soviet Union.
Vladimir N. Sakharov used to work for the K.G.B.'s Department VIII, which encompasses the Arab states, Afghanistan, Iran, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece and Turkey. When he defected in 1971, he told American interrogators abut three major Soviet missions in his zone. They were: 1. To sabotage Saudi Arabia's oil fields and, if possible, dislodge its pro-Western monarchy. 2. Tobuild terrorist cells in the Arab oil Sheikdoms around Kuwait and the Persian Gulf, offering scholarships and guerrilla training in the Soviet Union. 3. To mount -- as reported in John Barron's book "KGB" -- a "brutal campaign of urban terrorism, kidnapping and assissination against Turkey."
Generally speaking, Turkey has rated little public attention in the Western world. Yet it is a land mass of enormous importance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member charged with defending the eastern entrance to the Mediterranean; its strategic importance to the West has increased dramatically since the fall of the Shah in Iran. Turkey has been coveted by the Russians since the days of the first czars.According to Sakharov, the latest expression of that desire began i n the early 1960's when the K.G.B. began recruiting promising young l eft-wing Turks for a terrorist movement. They were eventually s hipped secretly to Syria for guerrilla training, with the a rrangements made by two K.G.B. agents working out of the Soviet E mbassy in Damascus. Turkey's terrorist cadets soon were enrolled ino ther Palestinian camps, from Lebanon and Jordan to South Yemen, and t aken in hand by Habash and Haddad. By 1970, a group of them had a lready been caught by police in the act of mounting a terrorist hit. Time and again in the years that followed, Turkish graduates of P alestinian camps -- Russian-supervised or located in Russian-run S outh Yemen -- were picked up as they made their way back home, l oaded down with Soviet-bloc weapons.
For the most part, these newly trained terrorists joined a sprawling youth group called Dev Genc and its military arm, the Turkish Peoples Liberation Army. Its bombings, shootings, holdups, kidnappings, and killings of police brought about the declaration of marital law in 1971. Two years later, the Turkish Army kept its word and held free elections. Meanwhile, the Liberation Army and its smaller associates inthe left-wing underground had dug deeper, built up enromous new arsenals of Soviet-bloc weapons (40,000 guns were seized by police over the next four years) and tightened its ties with the Habash-Haddad front.
The Palestinians, too, had worked assiduously under maritallaw to build up terrorist cadres in Turkey. As their noted hijacker Leila Khaled proudly announced to the Istanbul daily Hurryet on May 26, 1971, Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.) was "sending instructors to Turkey in order to train Turkish youth in urban guerrilla fighting, kidnappings, plane hijackings and other matters ... in view of the fact that it is more difficult than in the past for the Turks to go and train in P.F.L.P. camps abroad." The P.F.L.P. "has trained most of the detained Turkish underground members," she added.
Eventually the leftist terrorists of Turkey came to be splintered among dozens of Marxist revolutionary bands. But rightist terrorism has a clear profile. It belongs to Col. Arpaslan Turkes, whose Paramilitary Idealists are also known as the "Gray Wolves" -- they howl when their leader appears before them. The colonel was a late starter in political terrorism, depdning initially on a neo-Nazi party. By the time he turned his Gray Wolf terrorists loose in the early 1970's, he could justifiably claim to be responding to Communist provocation. The terrorist left wing retaliated, and the two-way kill rate rose inexorably. Right-wing military officers supplied weapons to right-wing killers, while the Soviet Union accelerated shipments to the leftists. Huge consignments of Soviet-bloc arms were smuggled in from Bulgaria, trucked overland or shipped by sea. On June 3, 1977, Turkey's security officers stopped the Greek cargo vessel Vasoula in the Bosporus, coming from Varna, Bulgaria. She was carrying 67 tons of armaments, much of it earmarked for the left-wing underground in Turkey. The Turkish Government's protest to Bulgaria got nowhere.
Late in 1978, maritallaw was imposed again, but the level of violence continued to soar. The terrorism was producing a corpse an hour when the army once again took over the nation last summer. As was true in its earlier interventions in 1960 and 1971, the armed forces said they were seeking to rescue, rather than replace, a democratic orderunder siege. They kept their promise those times, restoring civilian rule, and most observers are reasonably sure they will do so again. Meanwhile, the terrorist kill rate dropped from one an hour to one a week. NORTHERN IRELAND
When Northern Ireland's shooting war started in 1969, the Protestants had all the guns. The Roman Catholic Provisionals had nothing but a few moldering weapons left from the I.R.A.'s storied battled for freedom, about half a century before. They had to rely at first on American weapons -- trickling in, three or four at a time, in the false bottoms of suitcases -- and on American dollars.
The millions of Irish Americans who bankrolled the Provos thought they were supporting a continuation of the conflict that ended in 1922 with Ireland's winning its independence from Great Britian. The Protestant majority in the six Northern counties still under British control had been freezing Roman Catholics -- many of them wretchedly poor -- out of jobs, housing and public life. The I.R.A. presented itself as engaged in an open and aboveboard war against religious persecution: a war to reunite the North with the South.
In fact, as the Provisional I.R.A's newspaper, An Phoblacht, has made clear, it was and remains a war "to demolish the colonial regime in the Northern war zone and the Quisling regime in the Free State of Ireland" - in other words, a war against both North and South. It was also a war to "educate the workers to destabilize capitalism and international imperialism," as the Provos told Controinformazione, the house organ of Italy's Red Brigades.
The I.R.A has come a long way since its early days of dependance upon the United States. Fund raising is mostly done at home nowadays, by means of protection rackets, brothels, massage parlors and bank stickups. And the incoming hardware is largely Soviet-made. It took only a few years to make the transformation with the help of the international terror network.
The first definitive signal the Provos received that their weapons shortage might be ending came in the autumn of 1971. An unknown man, using the all-purpose name of "Mr. Freeman," dropped by to say that 4.5 tons of modern arms made in Czechoslovakia might be available. Marie McGuire, who wrote a book about life among the Provos, later reported that one of their leaders, David O'Connell, wandered on the Continent from Paris to Berne to Amsterdam to make the connection, "followed by the Czech and Soviet secret police." Then he made contact with Omnipol, an arms factory in Prague run by the Czech security police, who in turn had been tightly controlled by the K.G.B. since the 1968 Soviet invasion. O'Connell eventually did order 4.5 tons of bazookas, rocket launchers, hand grenades and the like, but the 166 crates were intercepted by police in Amsterdam. While the Provos were shattered by the loss of their first big arms consignment, their source was assured from that point on.
By then, the I.R.A. was getting to be a focus of worldwide revolutionary interest second only to the Palestinian resistance. The first I.R.A. contigents were dispatched to Jordanian guerrilla camps in 1969 and were soon drawn into George Habash's inner circle. In October 1971, Provo leaders were guests of honor in Florence at the historic conference that started Europe's Guerrilla International.
Assembled by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, the radical Italian millionaire publisher, and the ultra-left Potere Operaio (Workers Power), delegates from 14 countries agreed to coordinate international terrorist plans. It was, according to British and Irish Government sources, an unprecedented and dangerous development.
The keynote address, on the Palestinian resistance, was given by Italy's radical Marxist thinker Antonio Negri. The delegates then spent a full day listening to the I.R.A's Seamus Costello as he analyzed the experience of Europe's oldest guerrilla army. Arrangements were made at the meeting to smuggle weapons in heavy trailer trucks across the Continent to the I.R.A.
In May 1972, I.R.A. leaders sat in at the first international terrorist summit, organized by George Habash in Baddawi, Lebanon. And two months later, in Paris, Habash's Palestinian Front and the armed bands of 12 other nationalities signed a formal "Declaration of Support" for the Provisional I.R.A. Fifty Provos were selected for advanced guerilla training in Lebanon. Before long, there was a steady flow of I.R.A. men to South Yemen for work with Wadi Haddad. There, on the shooting range, in Haddad's private movie house at camp, they mingled with the men at the top.
The connection began to pay off at once. During 1972, the Habash-Haddad front held a series of secret meetings in Dublin, organizing the multinational terrorist team that would operate under Carlos the Jackal. When a million dollars' worth of weapons were divided up among them, the Provisionals got the lion's share. Soon, Carlos himself was taking the trouble to procure explosives for the Provos from an anarchist weapons supply service in Zurich. Italy's Red Brigades hailed the I.R.A. as "an unrenounceable point of reference for generalized warfare on the European continent." The operational plans of Cuban Intelligence of 1972 stipulated that "Cuba would train the I.R.A. in terror and guerrilla warfare tactics." Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya offered "arms and support for the revolutionaries of Ireland." Within a year, the cargo vessel Claudia steamed out of Tripoli toward the coast of Ireland bearing 250 Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons - five tons of the very best Soviet-bloc hardware - for the I.R.A. It was seized by the Irish Navy.
By 1976, the Provos were training in Libyan guerrilla camps, as they were still doing last year. Eyewitnesses have reported their presence at such sites as Tokra, northeast of Benghazi, where Cuban instructors offer the world's most advanced courses in sabotage, and at Camp AzZauiah studying weaponry, explosives, sabotage and psychological warfare with guerrillas from West Germany, Spain, Greece and Brittany.
Every move to arm and train the I.R.A. has pushed it further toward its ultraleft benefactors, who see Northern Ireland as a prized battleground. Civil war in the six counties puts great strains on the United Kingdom, which is interlocked with the entire Western structure of trade, industry, banking and military alliances. No wonder that the Soviet Union, as early as 1972, was sponsoring a worldwide campaign "against British repression in Ireland," piloted by hoary front groups like the International Union of Students, the World Federation of Democratic Youths and the World Peace Council.
All this has brought Northern Ireland closer than any other country in the West to the kind of conflict that Marxist revolutionaries call a civil war of long duration. And the Provos show no signs of wanting to reach a political settlement.
Like the most extreme of their Protestant counterparts, they have consistently blocked every possible peaceful solution. In 1973 they helped kill off a power-sharing plan in a new Northern Ireland Assembly by planting 48,000 pounds of explosives. "We see no future in power-sharing," they said. Later in 1973 they helped consign the promising Sunningdale agreement to oblivion by breaking their own cease-fire - the last they would ever agree to - after just three weeks. "There is absolutely no question of another cease-fire or truce," they later declared. In the summer of 1979, they killed off the best proposition yet for a federated Ireland, "the Fitzgerald plan," by blowing up Lord Mountbatten on his fishing boat.
The Fitzgerald plan was "unacceptable" they said flattly, a week after Mountbatten's death. Their spokesman was Ruairi O'Bradaigh, an I.R.A. man of 30 years' standing and president of their lawful political arm, the Provisional Sinn Fein. "We do not want a confederation of the South with the North," he declared. "Nor do we want a general dismantling of the existing establishments in the Irish Republic and Ulster both."
What then does the Provisional I.R.A. have in mind for its own version of a free and united Ireland? "We want a Democratic Socialist Republic," replied O'Bradaigh, something "third-worldish," a bit like "Allende's Chile," flavored with thoughts from Colonel Qaddafi's "Green Book," "similar to Communism but not exactly like it"; Marxist in analysis, if not necessarily in practice, designed to "nationalize industries, control the means of production and distribution and take over agriculture under staterun cooperatives"; emphatically "not German Social Democracy" and not quite a dictatorship of the proletariat either, but almost. "We could not risk having parties around who want to bring colonialism back. There would have to be a reckoning with them."
Meanwhile, as the Provos keep saying, the 12-year-old war must go on. By late 1978, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Londonderry observed: "The Catholic community, like the whole community here in the North, is sick and tired of the Provisional I.R.A." But it is doubtful whether the Provos take much notice. They do not really require to be loved. They never did need more than a few hundred professional guerrillas to hold down a British army 30 or 40 times their size. So long as they can count on the international terror network for hardware and sanctuary, their civil war can probably last in perpetuity.ITALY
In May 1975, CArlo Fioroni, a 31-year-old Italian high-school teacher, was arrested in Switzerland while attempting to change $100,000 of Italian ransom money into Swiss francs. Back in Italy, Fioroni was convicted and imprisoned for his role in the terrorist kidnapping and murder of his closest friend. Four years later, from his prison cell, he provided the public with its first authentic look inside the Italian terrorist movement.
During that same year, 1979, a judge in Padua offered his prognosis of the nation's political health: "It seemed to me that. . .a tragic moment was approaching for the community - insurrection and civil war." There was a terrorist attack somewhere in the country once every three hours.
Fioroni described a complex political-paramilitary structure that was Europe's most sophisticatedmodel of modern revolutionary warfare. His revelations sent shock waves through the nation.
Throughout the decade, Italians had been sure that their terrorist afflictions was a native cancer, free of foreign influence. To be sure, Italy lacked the religous confrontation that had ignited Ireland or the ethnic hatred that fired Basque terrorism. But, as expert analysts pointed out, it did offer causes enough for the outbreak: The nation had been relentlessly misgoverned for 30 years. Social and economic deformities abounded. Moreover, Italy's Communist Party, the largest in the West, has been moving toward partnership with the political establishment, leaving a huge revolutionary vacuum on the left.
Thus, left-wing intellectuals of the left refused to perceive the terrorist as anything but misguided revolutionaries and resolutely closed their eyes to possible foreign links. Italy's allies shared this view. As late as 1978, the C.I.A. refused an Italian Government request for help in finding the kidnapped former Premier, Aldo Moro, on the ground that there was no evidence that the Italian Red Brigades had any international connections.
In fact, the Italian terrorists were intimately connected with the global terrorist network. Their apparatus had two tiers. One was an open and legal political arm, the Autonomous Area, operating seminars, international conferences, counterculture bookshops and a chain of private broadcasting stations. Its leaders were the intellectual gurus of Italy's left. The other tier was a secret, terrorist branch. It included dozens of different units - the Red Brigades, with 500 armed members, and smaller bands, such as Front Line, with 200 to 300 more. The two tiers were mutually supporting, with a so-called Second Society of hundreds of thousands of lawabiding citizens offering the terrorists acceptance and protection the whole apparatus was closely linked to the Soviet Union and its terrorist surrogates, seeking to destabilize a major Western democracy.
Fioroni was the first important member of the underground to talk publicly about its connections with the I.R.A. and the German and Basque terrorists. Not until 1980 was the Soviet link first established: Half the founding leaders of the Red Brigades and several top leaders of the Autonomous Area had been trained by the K.G.B. in special camps in Czechoslovakia before 1968. Patrizio Peci, a former member of the Red Brigades' High Strategic Command, then confirmed that this training of cadres had continued throughout the 1970's.
Peci added: "All the arms reaching the Italians, of whatever make or provenance save those taken from policemen and Carabinieri, were coming from a single distribution center stocked by Palestinian formations." Consignments picked up off the Lebanese coast and off-loaded in Venice, he said, had been divided among Italians, Germans, I.R.A. Provisionals and Spanish Basques.
More than 1,000 accused terrorists were in prison by the end of 1980, and some 100 of them made detailed confessions. Police raids turned up scores of safe houses, tons of weapons and archives covering 10 years of terrorist growth. "Operationally speaking, the worst is over," Gen. Umberto Capuzzo, the national commander of the Carabinieri, said a few weeks ago. Yet even as he spoke, there was evidence that his optimism might have been misplaced. New terrorist incidents have occurred. And the deadly curve seems to be rising again.
The nations of Europe have made a start on a coordinated approach to combatting the international terrorist network - a kind of counterterror network. The interior ministers of all 10 Common Market nations, along with those of Spain, Austria and Switzerland, have been meeting periodically on the matter for nearly three years. They have found ways: harmonizing their technical procedures, from car-plate identification to fingerprinting, and sharing their computerized information.
West Germany's computers in Weisbaden, for instance, now give officials throughout Europe access to 10 million items of information on the life histories, travels, dental work, reading habits and musical preferences of known terrorists all over the world. Other nations are creating similar data banks. There has also been an increased exchange of antiterrorist expertise as more nations set up their own special commando units modeled on West Germany's Leatherheads (the G.S.G. 9), Britain's celebrated S.A.S. and the French Gendarmerie's Intervention Group (G.I.G.N.).
But direct action against individual terrorists cannot do the job alone. Leaders of the target nations are beginning to recognize the need to deal with the larger groups of law-abiding citizens who lend the terrorists support - the accomplices among whom, as Mao put it, the terrorist can swim like fish in the sea. The technique of establishing such a two-tier structure, as in Italy, has had a broad application among European terrorists.
The way was pointed more than a century ago, in czarist Russia, by a Moscow revolutionary named Nicholas Ishutin. It was he who first suggested the combination: an underground terrorist force operating within the protective ring of an open political party of law-abiding citizens. The public arm preaches revolution, covers for the underground, shields it from the police. The terrorists are presented as authentic - if sometimes "misguided" - revolutionaries. And they need not fear informers because of what the Mafia calls Omerta, the law of silence.The willingness of Secretary Haig and the President of Italy to go public with charges of Soviet involvement in the terrorist network may lend strength to a public-information attack on the two-tier technique. What is needed is extensive public debate - in the media, at the universities, among intellectuals in general - cutting through old romantic concepts. Left-wing terroism is not built upon authentic revolutionary goals of justice and equity for the working class. It seeks everywhere to dismantle free societies, forcing constitutional governments to behave like police states. And civilians paired with the terrorists are peculiarly exposed to manipulation by the network's Soviet sponsor.
For all the value of government crackdowns and educational programs, these terrorists have noticeably improved their self-protective apparatus and tactics. Smaller bands are emerging, less vulnerable to infiltration, less susceptible to public pressure, and armed with the latest technological weapons of destruction.
There remains the other option open to governments under siege, the option they have been so loath to take. They can directly confront the Soviet Union, Cuba and the Palestinians, using the weapons of diplomacy and trade to halt the transfer of terrorist goods and services. They could attempt to mobilize world opinion against the network, raising the issue in the United Nations and other international forums. They could bring economic pressures on Moscow and the network's other linchpins.
In fact, given the dimensions of the problem, and the danger it poses to free nations everywhere, it seems hardly credible that the Soviet Union and the West can settle any other issues between them so long as the issue of world terrorism goes unresolved.