The organization Front Line was founded in the fall of 1976 in two meetings held in Salò and Stresa.
The cadre who will form Front Line start to separate from the extra-parliamentary group Lotta Continua in the spring of 1974 and then on a mass scale in the fall of 1974. They come from two main groupings – the “Current” and the “Fraction” – which had led a political struggle inside Lotta Continua for the line of “arming the masses.” These aggregations were made up of many worker’s and regional organizations in Milan, Bergamo, Turin, Naples and Brianza.
From a relationship with militants from Potere Operaio (PO) in Milan, Rome, Turin and Veneto, emerges the magazine Senza Tregua and the Communist Committees for Worker’s Power. Later there is the formation of the Revolutionary Communist Committee, the Combatant Communist Unit and Front Line (Prima Linea).
The core which leads the unification process from which PL is formed comes from Sesto S. Giovanni, while in the Bergamo area, around Senza Tregua, the Autonomous Political Collective is formed, in 1975, from which emerges the first Bergamo Front Line (PL) Network .
The first action claimed by PL is a raid on on the HQ of the Fiat Executives Group in Turin on November 30 1976. In the leaflet claiming responsibility it is noted: “Front Line is not a new nucleus of combatant communists, but a aggregation of various guerrilla groups who have so far acted with different acronyms.”
Indeed, until then, Prima Linea used many signatures. These are the main ones:
-Fighting Worker’s Squads;
– Committees of Combatant Communists;
-Armed Proletarian Militias;
– Tiburtino Proletarian Militias;
– Worker-Student Collective of the Castelli Romani;
-Combatant Nuclei for Territorial Counter-Power;
-Combatant Communist Detachments;
– Proletarian Detachments for the Communist Liberation Army;
– Organized Proletarians for Communism;
-Combatant Communist Brigades;
– Armed Struggle for Communism.
On April 29, 1976 in Milan, Enrico Pedenovi, Provincial Councilor of the Italian Social Movement (MSI) is executed in retaliation for the stabbing of Gaetano Amoroso, a student killed by fascist militants gravitating around the MSI. The action is not claimed with the PL signature but during trial is attributed to PL.
It should be noted that initially the organization decided not to claim executions with the PL signature .
In April 1977 the organization’s first conference is held in San Michele a Torri. Participating are representatives from Milan, Bergamo, Turin, Florence and Naples and the Charter of the organization is drafted.
The founding principle of PL is the “the politico-military indivisibility of the organizational structure”, ie no separation between political and military roles and practices. Another basic principle of its organizational structure is that of bipolarity, which is the simultaneous presence of two distinct levels within the organization:
– A diffuse structure internal to the mass movements (Squads or Militias);
– A centralized structure operating both locally and nationally.
According to the Charter, the apex of the structure of PL is “the Conferences of the organization”, the highest authority of the organization, “before which the National Command must answer for their actions.”
Under the Charter, the Conference meets on an annual basis.
The organizational chart and essential functions of PL are as follows:
– Leading Group;
– Technical and logistical sector;
– Intelligence sector;
– Combat Units;
– Focus Groups (which differ from Squads because of their self-determined decision making);
– Proletarian Militias.
These structures are also defined as: “zones of proletarian combat”.
The initial military actions of PL are predominantly executions and acts of support to the “high points” of the struggle inside the factories. Many of the armed actions of the early period are woundings of department managers and business leaders. They are interventions internal to the debates of the ’77 movement to which the organization proposes itself as a vanguard expression.
On July 19, 1977 in Tradate (VA), the militant Roman Tognini “Valerio” is killed by the owner of a weapons shop he had just “expropriated”.
On 23 July 1977 Front Line attacks the same establishment, claiming the dead militant who had not yet been identified.
In the first months of 1978,there develops a substantial “political affinity” with the Combatant Communist Units (FCC), resulting in the formation of a unified national command under whose direction are placed all units of the FCC and PL operating in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence, Rome , Cassino and Naples.
Over the course of 1978 Front Line implements various measures of “counter-repression.” The internal political debate, at this time, is particularly focused on Basque and South American revolutionary strategies and the guidelines on escalation of the level of confrontation are revised.
On October 11, 1978 in Naples the professor of criminal anthropology Alfredo Paolella, working at Pozzuoli prison is shot dead. This is the first political assassination officially claimed by PL.
On January 19, 1979 the prison guard Joseph Lorusso is shot dead in Turin.
On January 29, 1979 in Milan, PL claims responsibility for the execution of the judge Emilio Alessandrini. The analysis on the base of which the action was carried out posits that the magistrates of the institutional left provide expertise, credibility and inside knowledge of the movement which is needed for the intelligent reorganization of the repressive structures.
On February 28, 1979 two militants of PL, Barbara Azzaroni and Matthew Caggegi are ambushed and killed by police on the basis of a anonymous informant’s tip .
On March 8, 1979, PL attacks a police patrol in retaliation and during the firefight a young bystander Emanuele Iurilli is accidentally shot.
On July 18, 1979 bar owner Carmine Civitate is shot dead by a commando of PL as he is suspected of being the informant whose tip led to the killing of Azzaroni and Caggegi. The action is claimed by the Hit Squad Barbara Azzaroni ‘Carla’ and Matteo Caggegi ‘Charlie’
This sequence of tragic events opens a debate that continues for over a year in the organization.
In September 1979, a organizational conference is held in Bordighera to discuss the fall-winter campaigns and organizational restructuring. The crux of the political battle is the choice between the two historical aspects of PL: take root again in the social terrain and fight from within the movement or escalate the clash with the institutional apparatuses. However the question is not resolved.
On the organizational level, the Conference leads to the creation of a National Executive alongside the National Command consisting of the membership of three key commissions:
-Technical and logistical Commission;
– Counter-Guerrilla Commission.
The Conference is also the site of the first split in PL. The dissenters believe that the political circumstances and state repressive activities require a retreat and a halt in military operations and consequently leave the organization.
Some militants of the Turin Squads and PL, form the group For Communism and explain their project in a document entitled “Interpretative Outline of the Economic Policies of Capital and Financial Flows” The entire group will soon retreat to France, where militants are arrested and subsequently extradited.
Internal reflection on the effects of the process of restructuring of production underway in the factories results in the execution of the engineer Carlo Ghiglieno, head of planning and president of the leading committee of the logistics department of Fiat, carried out in Turin on September 21, 1979.
On December 11, 1979, for demonstrative and deterrent purposes, and to commemorate Barbara Azzaroni and Matthew Caggegi, Front Line breaks into the Corporate Training School on Via Ventimiglia in Turin, militarily occupies the school and make a propaganda speech to 190 students, while in the adjoining classroom Fiat and Olivetti managers and 5 students are subjected to punishment wounding by shooting in the legs.
There is similar demonstration value in the occupation, evacuation and destruction of a building, in the Aminei hills of Naples, which houses the Social Service Center, the Ministry of Justice and juveniles serving custodial sentences. The analysis which was the basis of this intervention concerns mass illegality and the level of repression present in that area.
On December 14, 1979, in Rivoli (TO), a PL unit is surprised by police while preparing an attack on the Elgat engineering company. In the crossfire the police kill militant Roberto Pautasso.
In the first months of 1980, PL officially begins its Roman experience. It is a period of territorial expansion dictated by logistical needs and the consequent intensification of repressive operations not only by the desire to diffuse political interventions.
In January 1980 in Morbegno (SO), a conference is held which ratifies a prevalent position favorable to the escalation of the conflict and begins a reflection on the tendency of the judiciary, and particularly that of Milan, to become more and more an instrument of repression not only against the armed organizations but also of the movement areas and social conflict in general.
This reflection leads to the deadly shooting attack against Guido Galli, Professor of Criminology at the University Statale (Milan, 03/19/80). The action is claimed by the Valerio Tognini Hit Squad.
On February 5, 1980 in Monza, as part of actions on the quality of life in the territory, PL starts a campaign on health and in this framework claims the deadly shooting attack against Paolo Paoletti, director of production at the Seveso factory which released a toxic cloud of dioxin on July 10, 1976.
In early 1980 PL addresses the problem posed by the collaboration of some militants with law enforcement and the judiciary. On February 7, 1980 in Milan, the PL militant William Waccher, accused of collaboration with police is shot dead.
As a result of the hard blows dealt by the police, because of the collaboration of Roberto Sandalo, in August 1980, PL holds an organizing conference in Rimini in which the fundamental political problem is reflection on the implications of repression and phenomenon of “repentance”. On this occasion some militants resign from the organization.
Shortly afterwards, also in the summer of 1980 there is held another Organizational Conference in Senigallia (AN). In this debate there is a confrontation of critical positions on the capacity of PL to respond adequately to the new problems between those who want to keep PL active and who, consider it now inadequate and want to suspend operations. Therefore, in September 1980, some militants resign, others seek a close organizational relationship with the Red Brigades, and others form the Communist Nuclei.
Between 1978 and 1980, in a series of incidents during expropriations, disarmaments, and firefights to escape arrest, five people are killed by PL militants:
– The agent Fausto Dionisi (Florence 20/01/78);
– The paramilitary police officer Antonio Chionna (Martinafranca 06/03/80);
– The paramilitary police officers Ippolito Cortellessa and Pietro Cuzzoli (Viterbo 11/08/80);
– The agent Filippo Giuseppe (Bari 11/28/80).
In December 1980, with the wave of arrests caused by the confessions of Michael Viscardi, the problem of “internal desolidarisation.” becomes pressing.
Between December 1980 and January 1981 in Barzio (CO), a organizational conference is held which addresses the issue of the growing number of fugitive and captured militants. Attention is focused on the prisons and a command is formalized with the following operational units:
– Technical and logistical;
– Press and propaganda;
At Easter of 1981 there is held in Barzio (CO) a new Organizational Conference which decides on the dissolution of PL and the formation of the “Organized Pole”, which primarily intends to be a reference point for fugitive militants. Some of whom in 1981 form the Communists Organized for the Liberation of the Proletariat (COLP).
The State prosecuted 923 people for involvement in the activities of PL.