Ministry of the Interior
Il Palazzo del Viminale
architect: Manfredo Manfredi


Interior courtyard
Palazzo del Viminale
(Minstry of the Interior)

Emblem of the State Police






DIA weapons seizure




Submachine gun PM12
(Pistola Mitragliatrice)




Polizia Scientifica

Alfa 159
State Police

Right: Corpo Forestale dello Stato

In addition, Italy has a Corpo forestale dello Stato, police officers who investi-gate crimes against the environment and Italy's natural patrimony.




The Administration of State Security
and the Forces of Order in Italy

The administration of state security in Italy is a complicated affair. The Ministers of Defense, Finance, and the Interior all have forces under their command—the Arma dei Carabinieri, the Guardia di Finanza, and the Polizia di Stato. And some forces have a collaborative chain of command, where Ministry of Defense forces, for example, might report to the Minister of the Interior. Below is an organizational chart for the Ministry of the Interior. The Department of Public Security directs the State Police.

Each of Italy's provinces has a Prefattura (Prefecture), representing the central government and the Ministry of the Interior. Every major Italian city has a main police station (the Questura) run by a provincial commander of the State Police (the Questore). In smaller towns, offices of the State Police are directed by a Vice Questore Aggiunto or by a Commissario Capo (Chief Commissioner).

One of the main duties of the Ministry of the Interior is that of protecting the safety of the state's citizens against various forms of crime—both common and organized. As such, the State Police deal with rackets, fraud, drugs, the exploitation of minors, and other crimes, coordinating their activities with the Arma dei Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza (Finance Police), as well as with units such as the DIA (the Direzione Invetigativa Antimafia), an organization that targets the mob.

The DIA is a specialized investigative agency, set up within the Department of Public Security, with the task of carrying out preventive measures against organized crime. Agents also investigate crimes that originate from association with the Mafia.

The DIA staff currently amount to approximately 1500 units and includes investigators coming, in equal proportion, from the National Police, the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza.

At the international level, the DIA works with the G8 Expert Working Group for the fight against Eastern European organized crime (EEOC). This group includes the FBI (U.S.), the German BKA, the Russian GUBOP, the Canadian RCMP, the British NCIS, the French CRACO, and the Japanese National Police.

The Central Directorate of the Criminal Police includes the Central Operational Service (Servizio Centrale Operativo) which co-ordinates the main operations performed by the Intervention Squads and by the Special Units themselves, engaged in the fight against organised crime.

The State Police, of course, are made of up many units, one of which is the Forensic Science Police, belonging to the Directorate of the Criminal Police. They have numerous peripheral branches, 14 Regional and 89 Provincial Laboratories and 168 Fingerprinting and Documentation Posts, for example. Another unit, the Branch for the Analysis of Violent Crime, employs innovative technologies in criminal investigations.

State Police specialities include the following: traffic police, railway police, immigration police, and communications police. They are supported by numerous Special Units, including mobile units, bomb technicians, sharpshooters, a canine unit, the mounted police, an air service, and nautical squads.

Another important branch of the Department of Public Security is the Central Directorate for Police Training Institutes, responsible for both basic training and specialized services. A Police Academy, established in 1982, carries out more advanced training.

Two other items in the history of the Italian State Police deserve mention: In 1959, a Female Police Corps was established with the limited task of investigating and suppressing crimes against public morality, decency and minors. This corp was absorbed into the State Police in 1981. In 1968 an Emergency Public Service "113" was set up and soon after Patrol Units (“Volanti“) were established within each Questura.

Logo of the Ministry of Defense


Secret operations are carried out by SISMI (the Service for Military Intelligence and Security), SISDE (the civilian Service for Intelligence and Democratic Security), and UCIGOS (the Central Bureau for General Investigations and Special Operations). The latter bureau reports to Italy's Chief of Police.

A law passed in 1977 (modified 1991) established clear competencies for each service. SISMi (Servizio per le informazioni e la sicurezza militare) reports to officials of the Ministry of Defense and deals with crimes beyond Italy's borders, and SISDe (Servizio per le informazioni e la sicurezza democratica) reports to the Ministry of the Interior and deals with crimes within Italian territory.

Ultimately, both these intelligence services fall under the authority of the President of the Council of Ministers. Coordination is handled by CESIS, a general secretariat responsible for oversight.

Nocs Commando
An elite assault force

Insignia of the Nucleo Operativo
Centrale di Sicurezza (NOCS)

The Central Bureau for General Investigations and Special Operations (UCIGOS ) is in charge of the Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza, the tactical arm of the State Police, known for its highly secretive but much heralded NOCS commandos. These special forces are deployed for high-risk interventions. One of their more famous exploits in the 1980s was the liberation of Brigadier General James Dozier, who had been held hostage by the Red Brigades. Today, they are responsible for counterterrorist activities.

Their motto reads Sicut Nox Silentes (Silent As Night).

Some of the first agents chosen for this elite group came from the"Fiamme Oro," a unit of police
officers competing in sports, including the Olympics.

Fiamme Oro





Beretta 92FS
Weapon of the Polizia di Stato




Pistola mitragliatrice PM12 S2
Submachine gun of the Polizia di Stato
9 mm. Parabellum
clip capacity: 32

The nation’s Chief of Police also oversaw the Director of SAOS, the Antiterrorism and Special Operations Service, an individual with DIGOS agents at his disposal—the Division for General Investigations and Special Operations.

The Anti Terrorism Police are a specialist body made up, at the central level, of the Central Directorate for the Anti Terrorism Police and, at the peripheral level, of the Branches for General Investigations and Special Operations (Digos), located at the Questure.

The Directorate for the Anti Terrorism Police is made up of two Services: the first is competent mainly for information collection and analysis while the latter develops and co-ordinates investigations aimed at preventing and fighting terrorism.

Generale di Corpo d'Armata Gianfrancesco SIAZZU

Il Generale di Corpo d'Armata Gianfrancesco SIAZZU

The Comandante Generale dell'Arma
dei Carabinieri (Military Police)

The Carabinieri (military police) are commanded by a general who reports to the Military Chief of Staff (Capo di Stato Maggiore della Difesa [Capo SMD in the following chart]), himself a direct dipendent of the Minister of Difense.

During the period in which Nine Days in October is set, the forces of order and disorder were numerous. The nation faced not only terrorist attacks from a variety of sources—communist, neofascist, anarchist, separatist, nationalistic, and internationalist—but also organized crime directed by groups such as the Sicilian Mafia, Neapolitan Camorra, Calabrian ’Ndrangheta, and Sardinian Anonima.

Photo top left: Tommaso Buscetta, one of the first to break the code of omertà (the Mafia's conspiracy of silence)

At the time, the state was still reacting to reverberations from earlier terrorist acts of the far left’s armed organizations. These groups, newsworthy primarily in the 1970s, included the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), Front Line (Prima Linea), Fight On (Lotta Continua), Workers’Power (Potere Operaio) and Workers’ Autonomy (Autonomia Operaia). In the 1980s, the Fighting Communist Union (Partito Comunista Combattente, an offshoot of the Red Brigades) continued their attacks against the state.

Photo: Red Brigades hold Aldo Moro, former Prime Minister of Italy, later killed when the government refused to negotiate with the terrorists.

Of note, however, as regards the so-called “strategy of tension,”which kept Italy in turmoil during these years, is the fact that many of the bombings that took place in Italy, from Piazza Fontana (Milan, December 12, 1969) to that of the central train station in Bologna (August 2, 1980), were carried out by forces of the far right, including agents of the secret services and other state institutions.

Photo left: part of the Stazione Centrale di Bologna after the bombing of 1980.

The left, of course, was often blamed. But the Ministry of the Interior reports that, between 1969 and 1980, over 67% of violent political acts in Italy were committed by forces of the far right, while just over 26% were attributed to the far left.

Enrico Berlinguer
Leader of the Italian Communist Party

Ai giudici, allo stato, all’imperialismo non abbiamo nulla da dire: siamo combattenti nemici.
Appoggiamo la guerriglia e con essa ci identifichiamo.
Attaccare il cuore dello stato nelle sue politiche dominanti!
Rafforzare il campo proletario per attrezzarlo allo scontro con lo stato!
Guerra alla NATO! Guerra all’imperialismo!
Promuovere e consolidare il Fronte Combattente Antimperialista!

— Partito Combattente Comunista

What those forces of the far right were reacting to was expressed by militants of the PCC in Venice on June 1, 1987:

To the judges, to the state, to imperialism we have nothing to say: we are enemy combatants.
We support guerrilla activity and we identify with this.
Attack the heart of the state in its dominant politics!
Reinforce the proletarian camp in order to furnish it with the means to attack the state!
War to NATO! War to imperialism!
Promote and consolidate the Anti-imperialist Fighting Front!

Original Italian text to the left (English translation by Ron Terpening)

Anti-NATO poster of the Italian Communist Party

This was an environment ripe with conspiracies to overthrow the state, one of which occurs during Nine Days in October.

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