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Brigate Rosse
Red Brigades


Formed in 1969, the Marxist-Leninist BR seeks to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle and to separate Italy from the Western Alliance. In 1984 split into two factions: the Communist Combatant Party (BR-PCC) and the Union of Combatant Communists (BR-UCC).


Original group concentrated on assassination and kidnapping of Italian Government and private-sector targets; it murdered former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978, kidnapped US Army BGen. James Dozier in 1981, and claimed responsibility for murdering Leamon Hunt, US chief of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observer Group, in 1984.

The Red Brigades have not conducted an attack since 1988 and had been largely inactive since Italian and French police arrested many of the group's members in 1989.

Italian leftists claiming ties to the "Red Brigades for the Construction of the Combatant Communist Party" appeared to be attempting to revive the Red Brigades terrorist group. On 2 September 1996, three individuals in a stolen car fired seven shots, and one of them threw a grenade at the US Airbase in Aviano; there were no injuries. Aviano is the staging base for US aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia. Callers saying they represented the Red Brigades phoned three Italian newspapers on 4 September 1996 to claim responsibility for the attack. In late October, Italian police arrested nine individuals connected with the attack, including the three who were directly involved. Police have identified two of those three as Red Brigades members.


At the time of the Brigate Rosse's kidnapping of Aldo Moro (the Italian President-to-be) in 1978, it was reported that the Red Brigades consists of 400 to 500 full-time members who are on the payroll of the organization. Above ground, a second group of up to 1,000 Brigatisti live a normal existence as members of Italian society. The above-ground members of the Red Brigades are men and women in their 30's and early 40's whose ties to the organization date back to the student revolution of the late 1960's and early 70's, and who since reached positions of responsibility in government, industry and political parties. Estimates of the Italian revolutionary left's active base in the late 1970's ranged from an illegal left underground of 4,000-8,000 cadre to an active support base of 200,000-300,000. As of the early 1992 BR's active strength was probably fewer than 50, plus an unknown number of supporters.

Location/Area of Operation:

Based and operates in Italy. Some members probably living clandestinely in other European countries.

External Aid:

Currently unknown; original group apparently was self-sustaining but probably received weapons from other Western European terrorist groups and from the PLO.

Sources and Resources

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Updated Saturday, August 08, 1998 7:35:41 AM