Monday, December 07, 2015

Counterterrorism: Another Way Italian Law Enforcement Is An Effective Model For Everywhere Else

Posted by Peter Quennell

We have often mentioned these major justice-system pluses:

(1) That Italy has one of the industrialized world’s lowest crime rates and that US cities have been observing its model.

(2) That it has a very prominent and much admired police presence, and a small and much admired court and penal system.

Now Thomas Williams is reporting this third big plus from Rome in Breitbart Business News

A leading military analyst is citing Italy as a model of counterterrorism done right, pointing out that despite many factors going against it, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.

In the most recent issue of Nikkei Asian Review, Romanian born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak lays out a persuasive theory explaining how Italy has been so successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts. In a word: Italy is not afraid to deport those it considers to be a threat to national security.

In his essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasts Italy with France and Belgium, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.

So where France has been “caught by surprise again and again by terrorist attacks with many lives lost” and in Belgium “terrorists have been coming and going for years, buying military weapons with remarkable ease,” Italy has remained unscathed.

It would seem that Italy doesn’t have much going for it. It has porous borders and a Muslim population that exceeds 2 million and has played an active role in military expeditions in Islamic territories. Moreover, the Vatican is the “most iconic target in Europe,” and tops the list of objectives of the Islamic State, Luttwak observes. And yet, “nobody has been killed by Muslim terrorists in Italy.”

Italian counterterrorism has been on full alert since 9/11, Luttwak says, and its combined forces “have detected and interrupted hundreds of terrorist plots large and small, at every stage from mere verbal scheming to fully ready actions.”

So where terrorists have successfully attacked in Madrid, London, Paris, Toulouse, Copenhagen, Brussels and elsewhere, in Italy they have been foiled time after time.

Luttwak suggests that Italy’s success is all a question of method, based on the insight that the only thing that can be done to stop potential terrorists is to follow those who are suspected to be truly dangerous around the clock so that they can be arrested or killed at a moment’s notice. Since the numbers of probable suspects can be astronomical, Luttwak says, their numbers must be effectively reduced if this strategy is to bear fruit. And this is exactly what Italy has done.

State intelligence agencies throughout Europe monitor suspects, filling out reports and keeping files, but they often fail to take the action needed. The Italians, however, immediately conduct an interrogation on credible suspects, and many are sent home or arrested, if their situation merits it. Italy currently has more than 180 radical imams in prison, Luttwak notes.

Employing this method, Italian authorities are able to keep numbers of suspected potential terrorists within a reasonable range and thus are able to monitor them effectively.

Earlier this month, Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force, said he intended to protect citizens from the danger of terrorism “by adopting all the preventive measures necessary,” and noted that “we must be prepared to give up some of our personal freedoms, in particular in the area of communication.”

The fact that the Italians lump together anti-mafia operations with counterterrorism is also telling. Unlike other European states, with the exception perhaps of the UK, Italy has a long history fighting serious organized crime within its borders, coming from the different branches of the Italian mafia working in various parts of the peninsula.

The Italian interior ministry has reportedly also increased its “targeted expulsions” of persons considered to be a risk to national security. So far this year, 55 individuals have been deported and the ministry has said the numbers will only grow.

According to Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, intelligence and counterterrorism units are reevaluating information gathered in recent months on some 56,000 people, scouring case files to see whether anything could have been overlooked.

Given Italy’s impressive counterterrorism track record, it may be about time for other European nations to sit up and take note.

Tweet This Post


Here is a related report by Andrea Vogt on a really huge mafia bust which involved the same crack forces last January.

The mafia referred to there is the one the Sollecitos are connected to - though fellow-travelers of Naples and Sicily families also had roles in springing RS and AK.

Below is Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force, who may one day come looking for AK and RS and their helpers.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/07/15 at 11:25 PM | #

Drop by drop. little drops will wear down a wall given enough time.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 12/07/15 at 11:57 PM | #

Very impressive report, and heartening, to a degree…
Interesting that the Italians are used to dealing with organized crime - and, by implication, understand the psychology involved with these kind of bonded groups.
It sounds as if they’re less taken in by story telling too.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 12/08/15 at 10:37 AM | #

It’s beginning to look as if the San Bernardino Terrorist Pair had already planned their Mass-Shooting for that specific occasion (Holiday Celebration, focusing on Christmas and Hanukkah) not necessarily explicitly denigrating Islam, but in the Terrorist Pair’s minds, brazenly proclaiming their Infidelity.

The husband may well have attended to verify that the gathering was selectively that of suitable Infidels. (Casing-the-Joint)
Having seen that it was, he went home, the pair both Uniformed and Weaponized in accordance with their plan and then executed it.

Peter, your Post is an eye-opener. Compared with Italy Other Countries have a form of Doublethink wrt “Doing Counterterrorism Right”.

As Chicago Federal Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote:
“...assault weapons with large‐capacity magazines can fire more shots, faster, and thus can be more dangerous in aggregate Why else are they the weapons of choice in mass shootings?”.

The Liberal insistence on Policies protecting the “rights” of individual members of society vs Policies protecting society as a whole from individuals who aim to injure both large numbers-of, and other individual members of society has superseded the Policies protecting society as a whole.

As a result Terrorist-Privacy is facilitated, and they are taught-how to evade identification by avoiding cell-phone use, using only indecipherable encrypted messaging, and enabled-to-obtain large-capacity assault weapons.

If only we would emulate Italy.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 12/08/15 at 11:03 AM | #

And just in case terrorists in the US don’t get the evasion-message, NYT publishes it.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 12/08/15 at 11:27 AM | #

Hi Cardiol, Grahame, SeekingUnderstanding

Yes Italian and American law enforcement are at opposite popularity poles now and the Italians have the edge in efficiency.

Given a level playing field, Italy and Italians can arrive at the best systems of all kinds found anywhere in the world. I’ve known that from UN days.

They just dropped their bid for the US’s General Motors bu my guess is they will be back. Our area is filling up with FIATs, Maseratis, and Ferraris (and Chryslers and Jeeps, FIAT subsidiaries) and half the stores on Madison Avenue are Italian owned.

The real stupidity of Preston, Fischer and Co beyond being taken in by a classic “charming psychopath” and ignoring hard facts is in not grasping this. Not grasping that Italy has one of the best law-enforcement/justice systems in the world from which the US is already learning a lot.

That it can be bent in some instances is not the fault of the designers or those who work within it. It is the fault of the mafias, rogue masons, and corrupted politicians who still win a trick or two - though we are seeing and to some extent helping the tenacious good guys to fight back.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/08/15 at 04:53 PM | #

Good picture Pete of the mafia/terrorism buster. It suggests (to me) admirable qualities like integrity, intelligence, clear-sightedness and patience. The very qualities not shown by the 5th chamber?

Maybe the judges and the police should get together and swap notes, because the latter are surely fighting a losing battle if the courts can be bent like they have been in this case?

Posted by Odysseus on 12/08/15 at 07:48 PM | #

P.S. Hope I don’t come across as anti-Italian - which seems to happen whenever I suggest that something is seriously wrong, judicially, in this case.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/08/15 at 08:02 PM | #

Italians   ‘Can arrive at the best systems of all kinds found anywhere…’

My other area is in art and design, and I am still of the opinion that the Italians are the consummate designers.
I can recognise an Italian design almost immediately!

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 12/08/15 at 08:43 PM | #

Me too. The late 50s/early 60s zeitgeist included the Italian-inspired cool and modern look and it transformed a previously demoralised, bombed out and dour London: it gradually dawned on everyone that life could easily be better with imagination. Seemed like everyone had an empty straw-basket bottle of Chianti with a candle pushed in on the dinner table, just for the look!

Posted by Odysseus on 12/08/15 at 09:46 PM | #

Regarding Bruno-Marasca, it is always important to find the solution to the problem and to put the responsibility where it needs to be. The latest judgment is a travesty but it is certainly not typical or emblematic of Italian justice. Even Mignini in his denouncement of Maori and the journalist, calls the BM decision a “singularity”.

There is no system designed by humans that can adequately curb all human behavior. Even with a criminal justice system, there are still murderers. The US Supreme Court does issue fairly dumb rulings every now and then, though their docket has far fewer cases than the Cassazione.

Posted by Olleosnep on 12/08/15 at 10:12 PM | #


If the 5th chamber ruling is just “dumb” and to be expected , by random chance,  every now and then,  given human fallibility, there would only be normal concern.

The problem in this case is that there’s evidence of corruption throughout and no one here needs all that listed I’m sure.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive as I’m English,  and this is Meredith’s homeland,  but a judicial verdict can stink, and be said to stink, without implying that’s in any way true of Italian justice as a whole. That’s obvious surely?

I’d love to be blithely phlegmatic but unfortunately I suspect something is rotten, as do many others.

Yes Mignini called it a singularity, I’m sure he’s right (I bloody hope so). But a singularity can still smell to high heaven, as he might be the first to admit…

Posted by Odysseus on 12/08/15 at 11:04 PM | #

The analyst is incorrect in saying that no person has ever been murdered by Islamic terrorists on Italian soil. Multiple airport attacks, an attack on a USO club killing 1 American sailor, the list goes on and totals many hundreds of incidents. It is simply wrong for him to suggest otherwise.

The GTI (Global Terrorism Index) gives Italy a score of 3.36. Interestingly, the some countries that scored a zero on the index are:

North Korea, Sierra Leone, Poland, Romania, Lithuania..

Posted by Sarah Phillips on 12/09/15 at 12:04 AM | #

Hi Sarah:

The Rome airport attack (the only airport attack I know of) 30 years ago and the USO bombing 27 years ago were by Palestinian freedom fighters, right?  Did they have Islamist overtones? I dont recall that, and dont see it in the old reports.

No deaths from Islamists since 911 does seem to be correct in contrast to the numerous deaths elsewhere. So far the Italian measures do seem to work, and I think we can acknowledge and maybe learn from that? The GTI measures attempts not deaths of course and the article says there were plenty of attempts. 

In the various one-hour and two-hour reports on the origins of ISIS on US TV (the best being by Al Jazeera!) the role of the American administrator Paul Bremer after the US invasion of Iraq in firing every Sunni from the Iraqi government and military is labeled the stupidist of all moves. Plus the iron rule of Assad who also kept the Sunnis down. 

For myself I’ve lived in moslem areas for nine years and done work in most of the countries so I see where they are coming from. Prime causes from way back include the lack of real growth throughout the region (lowest on average in recent years) and the terrible betrayals by the British and French as they moved in after the Ottoman Empire collapsed.  Those helped put militancy on steroids for sure.

Here’s the full original article by Luttwak, the one Breitbart quoted from.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/09/15 at 12:27 AM | #


The 5th chamber ruling is more than just dumb; it is in fact a travesty, as I wrote. There may well be some corruption at work (I agree that it certainly seems that way).

I would only caution on ‘blaming the system’ rather than actually ‘blaming the judges’ who let themselves be corrupted, hoodwinked, what-have-you.

What is true of the case as a whole is that the majority of judges, those with penal law experience, all found merit in the evidence.

It is only the few judges with no experience in penal cases who completely blew it (and the Chieffi & Vecchio Cassazione demolition of Hellmann & Zanetti shows that.)

Posted by Olleosnep on 12/09/15 at 01:25 AM | #


Fair enough, I agree with you.

Of course we have to remember that the non-experienced judges were parachuted in at critical times, so that might be construed as a system failure, at the very least. Alternatively corruption led to their appointments.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/09/15 at 12:46 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

System as designed, or system as (slightly)(for now) bent by politicians helping their corrupt buddies?

We’ve always agreed to the latter and its quite plain to Italians, though it took unusual and risky efforts which “parachuted in” perhaps doesnt quite capture, and its already left RS and AK (and Bongiorno) in much less than 100% a happy state.

We’ve already seen two instances of corrective action (Mignini charges showing the laws broken and CSM moves against Marasca-type and Bruno-type appointments to Cassation) and for sure there is more on the way.

I think in 2016 you’ll see a big swing in the media. The hoaxes (which we are still setting out) are just too profound. Not the justice Meredith deserved but she’ll still leave an important legacy.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/09/15 at 01:04 PM | #

The Renzi government has taken the lead in trying to stabilize Libya, needed as ISIL tries to set up there.

Change agents in these situations work with the same “group, group, group” concept that was the basis for the EC, League of Nations, United Nations, and successful communities and companies everywhere.

It also helps to be able to show how to grow the whole pie and not just sit around deciding how to divide up a shrinking pie.

Two key things the US forgot to do in Iraq. Here’s hoping Italy does better.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/09/15 at 01:27 PM | #

“Two key things the US forgot to do in Iraq.”

Forgot to do in the US as well, I guess. Much of the US is in a shrinking-pie situation and its reflected in the politics.

You can see it geographically as you travel (some areas are absolutely shocking) and its happening class-wise as well.

Only about 1/4 of all enterprises, industries, local communities and cities are experiencing REAL growth when the individual cost of their capital (which varies with risk etc) is factored in.

Americans (and Arabs) are so hungry to learn. I’ve run growth workshops in places like Kuwait where it was full house - on a Friday (their sabbath)!!

This I suspect is where Meredith was headed. Check on her study-mix and something she said about wanting to work in Brussels.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/09/15 at 03:11 PM | #

Remember this Donald Trump as described in this post in December 2009?

Not long after that, a pervasive if unproven rumor appeared in Perugia that he had shelled up $2 million to bend Judges De Nuncio and Hellmann.

Someone on Wall Street has calculated that if 30-plus years ago he had put his inheritance in hedge funds, he would be worth at least 2X what he is today. He could have put to better use all that “genius”.

Now Trump has anyone with more than half a brain beating up on him. I had to laugh at this satire.

Donald Trump’s Destruction Test of the Republican Party Continues Apace

A few days ago, like an evil mastermind on “24”, Donald Trump declared that if we wanted to fight terrorists we needed to target their families for death. Today he gave a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition and told the crowd, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” Ha ha. Stupid money-grubbing Jews. As Judd Legum pointed out, this means that Trump has now insulted blacks, refugees, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, and Jews.

I’m now going to double down on my belief that Trump is running the world’s greatest reality show here. I think he got bored one day and came up with an idea that tickled him: “I wonder just how deranged you can get and still retain the support of the tea party wingnuts?” So he made a $1 bet with some of his Democratic friends and performed a test run in 2012 with his maniacal birther stuff. But all that did was show the depth of his challenge. He’d have to do a lot more than that in 2016. He started off slow with wild claims about immigrant Mexican rapists, knowing it would draw in the rubes. Then he laughably claimed that he’d get Mexico to pay for a border wall. Nothing happened. He insulted John McCain for being a POW. Nothing happened. He started telling obvious lies. Nothing. He lied on national TV and was called on it a few minutes later. Nothing. He all but admitted that he knows diddly about the Bible. Nothing. He called evangelical darling Ben Carson a nutcase liar. Nothing. He claimed that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City celebrated 9/11. Nothing. He mocked a disabled reporter in front of the cameras. Nothing. He suggested taking out terrorist families. Nothing. He appeared on the radio show of a crackpot conspiracy theorist. Nothing. Now he’s insulted an audience of conservative Jews.

Trump is probably frustrated. He’s basically dialed it up to 11 already, and the crowds are still swooning. What does he have to do? Tell a story about how he was abducted by aliens back in the ‘90s? Promise to nuke Tehran if he’s elected president? Suggest the world would be a better place if we’d never invented any HIV treatments?

Even Trump must be scratching his head wondering what to do next. There’s gotta be something that finally goes too far. Right?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/09/15 at 04:49 PM | #


“Prime causes from way back include the lack of real growth throughout the region”- I agree 100%.

I have not been to any ME countries yet, but I consider Turkey (I have been there only for a couple of conferences) is slowly becoming a danger zone. The constant refrain (my contact points are the taxi drivers) is how the others are treating OUR people (means Muslims).

Also the Israel Palestinian conflict needs some urgent action from the Americans. A lot of unhappiness comes from there. The man on the street blames the US - not Israel. Of course the official line is always on the Zionist enemy!

The fact is that everybody (in the ME) is only trying their best to elk out a living. Only problem is that they have now got an aspiration. A quality of life- called hope.

Just see how easy, rather trivial, is to convert a regular normal fun-loving common man into a dreaded terrorist. They even get (sometimes) an insurance plan too.

I have seen when the Milan church offered its huge courtyard for prayers to Muslims. The sight is unbelievable. That one single gesture was just sufficient. Need I say more?

Posted by chami on 12/10/15 at 09:57 AM | #

Hi Chami

Absolutely, on all fronts. Poor ol’ Turkey. I offered these points above which I think are explanatory to the smart readers here:

Change agents in these situations work with the same “group, group, group” concept that was the basis for the EC, League of Nations, United Nations, and successful communities and companies everywhere.

It also helps to be able to show how to grow the whole pie and not just sit around deciding how to divide up a shrinking pie.

What you describe is “group, group, group” in the wrong way, as the pie for most people IS shrinking - and those few who have it really have it big these days and not inconspicuously.

Because there is so little economic performance, the Middle East (except Israel) is a net migrator of capital out of the region. The millionaire princes and national investments funds invest in Europe and Asia, and the US of course.

“Group, group, group” in a militant way is the growing outcome. And it is becoming worldwide, also. See this polarity as decribed in the NY Times today.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/11/15 at 07:05 PM | #

Tweet This Post

Post A Comment


Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

Or to next entry Traitor? How Sollecito Extensively Smeared Italy In English But Of Course Not Italian

Or to previous entry A Critique In Five Parts Of The Fifth Chambers Motivation Report By Judges Marasca And Bruno #5