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.
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