Italy seizes missile in raid on far-right - GulfToday

Italy seizes missile in raid on far-right


Italian police show an air-to-air missile seized during raids on far-right extremist groups in Milan on Monday. Agence France-Presse

Italian police said on Monday they had seized weapons including an air-to-air missile in raids sparked by an investigation into far-right extremist groups.

“During the operation, an air-to-air missile in perfect working order and used by the Qatari army was seized,” police said.

As well as the 800 kilogramme Matra missile, the bust in northern Italy uncovered a whole host of sophisticated weapons, including “latest generation” automatic assault rifles and rocket launchers.

“This is a significant seizure, with few precedents in Italy,” said Turin police commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis.

Police arrested three people, including Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, a former candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party.

The missile, 3.54 metres long was made in France and Del Bergiolo had been hoping to sell it for 470,000 euros ($529,000), according to Italian media reports.

The missile was “without explosive charge, but re-armable by people specialised in the field,” police said.

“For now, nothing leads us to suspect” an active plot to use the weapons, said counter-terrorism official Eugenio Spina.

The Super 530 F was a modernisation of the R530 missile that went into service in 1980, and has a range of 25 kilometres, with an explosive charge of 30 kilos.

“It is extremely dangerous and risky to turn it into a missile to fire from the ground, unless you have good engineers and equipment,” a missile expert who asked not to be named told AFP.

Similarly, because of its age, it is “extremely unlikely that it can be used, but its use can be changed,” he added.

The raids were the result of a separate police probe into Italian extremists known to have joined pro-Russian rebels in fighting Ukrainian troops.

Messages intercepted by the police led them to investigate Del Bergiolo, who had sent photographs of the missile for sale through the Whatsapp messaging service.

They put him under surveillance before raiding his home and finding neo-Nazi propaganda, Hitler memorabilia, and a stash of weapons including a Scorpion machine gun, 306 firearm parts and 20 bayonets.

Agence France-Presse

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