Italian police raided the homes of 35 suspected neo-Nazi sympathizers, accusing them of setting up an online forum to spread anti-Semitic ideology, on Thursday. The operation was conducted in 22 provinces around the country, including in Rome and Milan.
The suspects were accused of spreading ideas on the Internet "based on racial and ethnic hatred and incitement to commit acts of discrimination and violence for racist and ethnic reasons.”
On Thursday, police said they found two loaded weapons, a hand grenade casing and a flag with a swastika in the flat of a 51-year-old man in Mantua. They also confiscated at least one anti-Semitic video, according to reports.
The suspects, accused of spreading racial hatred and inciting racist acts of violence, had created a new website that took over from the Italian branch of the white supremacist website Stormfront.org, which police had closed down in November 2012. The new website had a documentary, The Secret Enemy, which blamed the Jewish people for the global economic crisis, as well as insults against Italian left-wing figures such as anti-Mafia author Roberto Saviano and Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini.
“This is a dangerous organization under an ideological profile that finds its roots in a historical period that apparently seems distant,” prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo told a news conference. “We must deal with the ideological extremism that is stirring in Europe.”
Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, issued a statement expressing “warm thanks” to the forces of order for the “massive” crackdown.
Thursday’s operation came one year after another widespread operation against Stormfront in which police blocked the Italian version of the group’s website and arrested four people on charges of inciting racial and ethnic hatred and anti-Semitism. They also raided the homes of 17 others, confiscating fascist and neo-Nazi material.