“Gladio” And The Strategy Of Tension

April 26, 2015


There is a method of controlling society that the elite have known about since the beginning of time; control through fear and intimidation to the point where people will beg for stable authority. It’s been called many things, but in our modern age it is generally called “the strategy of tension”. Here’s how Wikipedia defines the term:

“The strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) is a theory that Western governments during the Cold war used tactics that aimed to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions in order to achieve their strategic aims.[1]”

The general principle is this: it can take many years for a stable society to alter its behavior, particularly in a way that benefits the elite classes. However, when such a society is subjected to great stress, immense and overreaching changes can be engineered. 9/11 was such an occasion, with sweeping changes that have overridden constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.
Perhaps the best example of this type of operation that has been exposed is the legacy of the “stay behind” armies in Europe that were run by the CIA and NATO. These were secretive groups of anti-communist commando’s that were embedded with technology and weapons to fend off any assaults on Europe by the Soviet Union during the “first” Cold War. There have been a number of books on the subject, in this article we will excerpt from an essay by Daniele Ganser, author of “NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe”. Ganser’s book is available through online booksellers, but it’s fairly expensive at around $35. Here is a good summary:

The “Strategy of Tension” in the Cold War Period
By Daniele Ganser

“It must be noted that the targets of the strategy of tension are not the dead
and the wounded of the terrorist attacks, as many might assume. The targets are the
political opponents, who are discredited through the attack, and those who remain
unharmed but learn of the attack, thereby coming to fear for their lives and those of
their loved ones. Since the aims of the strategy are to discredit opponents and to
create fear, the real targets are not the people who were killed, whether they number
in the dozens or even thousands, but the millions of people who survive physically
unharmed but emotionally distressed.
The strategy of tension forms part of what is called “psychological warfare”
or PSYWAR. As the term indicates, this form of warfare does not attack human
bodies, tanks, planes, ships, satellites, and houses in order to destroy them, but
human psyches, human minds. Leaving aside the fact that philosophers,
psychologists, neurologists, and theologians have never been able fully to agree on
exactly what “the mind” is, we can for our purposes here define it simply as our
human ability to think and feel. If a group can get access to our thinking and our
feeling without our noticing, it can exercise great power over us. Once we notice
that our psyches are being manipulated through psychological warfare, the technique loses some of its effect.
Psychological warfare played a central role in World War II and all the wars
that followed. It was used by military leaders in Europe, the Americas, Asia,
Australia, and Africa. It is sometimes popularly referred to as “propaganda,” but
propaganda is only one form of psychological warfare. The strategy of tension is a
lesser known form. The US Department of Defense defines psychological warfare
as: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the
primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of
hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national
Psychological warfare can come in many different and seemingly unrelated
forms—leaflets, posters, or television reports, all designed to shape the thinking and
feeling of the target group. Or it can come in the form of a terrorist attack carried out by secret agents and blamed on a political opponent. Needless to say, strategyof-
tension terrorism that kills innocent people is a much more radical and brutal
form of psychological warfare than dropping paper leaflets from a plane over enemy
territory. But the two forms of psychological warfare are linked in their targeting of
the mind—the emotions and thoughts of people.
Italian Judge Felice Casson rediscovered the strategy during his
investigation into a number of terrorist attacks Italy had suffered in the 1960s,
1970s, and 1980s. According to Casson, the best documented historical case in
which the strategy of tension was implemented occurred in the Italian village of
Peteano. There, on May 31, 1972, three members of the Italian paramilitary police,
the Carabinieri, were lured to an abandoned Fiat 500 by an anonymous phone call
and were killed when they opened the hood of the car, thereby triggering a bomb.
For many years, this terrorist attack was blamed on the Red Brigades, a left-wing
terror organization in Italy. But after Casson reopened the case, he found that the
Catholic neofascist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a militant anti-communist, had carried
out the crime.
Casson also found to his great surprise that Vinciguerra had not operated
alone, but had been protected by members of the Italian military intelligence
service, today called SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare).2
Judge Casson arrested Vinciguerra, who on trial in 1984 confirmed that it had been
relatively easy for him to escape and hide because large segments of the Italian
security apparatus, including the SISMI, had shared his anti-communist convictions
and had, therefore, silently supported crimes that discredited the Italian left and
especially the Communist Party, which was quite strong. After the bombing,
Vinciguerra recalled, “A whole mechanism came into action…. [T]he Carabinieri,
the Minister of the Interior, the customs services, and the military and civilian
intelligence services accepted the ideological reasoning behind the attack.”3
Casson found that by this crime and other attacks being blamed on the leftwing
Red Brigades, the primary political enemy, the Italian Communist Party, was
discredited. The directors of the military intelligence service and politicians argued
after the crime that the “Communist danger” justified increased military spending
and a reduction of civil liberties in the interest of state security. In this way, the
strategy of tension, as executed through the Peteano terror, spread fear across Italy,
discredited a political opponent, and allowed for the implementation of conservative
security policies. It was very effective, for nobody knew at the time that the
intelligence services had themselves supported the crime.
“As far as the intelligence services are concerned, the Peteano attack is part of what
has been called ‘the strategy of tension,’” Judge Casson explained in a BBC
interview in 1991.
The tension created within the country then served to promote
conservative, reactionary social and political tendencies. While this
strategy was being implemented, it was necessary to protect those
behind it, because evidence implicating them was being discovered.
Witnesses withheld information to cover right-wing extremists.4
The Purpose of the Attacks
This series of terrorist attacks discredited the Italian Communists and spread
maximum fear among the Italian population, as nobody really knew what was going
on and who would be killed next. It was impossible to protect the entire
transportation system, let alone all public places, and thus it was clear to all security
experts at the time that democratic societies would always remain vulnerable to
terrorist attacks. “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent
people, unknown people far removed from any political game,” the neofascist
Vincenzo Vinciguerra said after his arrest, explaining the strategy of tension in
which he himself had participated.
The reason was quite simple [he continued]. They were supposed to
force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the State to ask for
greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the
massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the
State cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what
The Gladio Revelations
Italian Judge Felice Casson, who had rediscovered the strategy of tension,
wanted to know why persons within the Italian government and intelligence
services had supported the criminal strategy of tension. Following the arrest of
Peteano bomber Vinciguerra, he decided to dig deep. “I wanted that new light
should be shed on these years of lies and mysteries, that’s all. That Italy should for
once know the truth.”9 In the summer of 1990, Judge Casson requested permission
from Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to search through the archives of the
Italian military intelligence service (SISMI) in Rome.
The permission was given and Casson made a sensational discovery: He
found that under the code name “Gladio” (“sword”), a secret army existed that had
been set up by the Italian military intelligence service in close collaboration with the
CIA in the years after World War II. This secret army was to function as a guerrilla
unit in the event of a Soviet invasion and occupation of Italy.
The data found by Casson suggested that this mysterious Gladio army was linked to NATO and, in the absence of a Soviet invasion, seems to have
manipulated Italian politics in a number of covert action operations during the Cold
War in order to weaken the Italian Communists.
Casson confidentially informed an Italian parliamentarian commission of his
far-reaching findings. The senators were greatly surprised and, on August 2, 1990,
ordered the head of the Italian executive, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, “to
inform the parliament within sixty days with respect to the existence, characteristics
and purpose of a parallel and occult structure that is said to have operated within our
secret service of the military with the aim to condition the political life of the
On October 24, 1990, Andreotti handed a ten-page report entitled “The Socalled
‘Parallel SID’—The Gladio Case” to the Senate investigative commission
under Senator Gualtieri. Andreotti’s report confirmed that a secret army existed
within the military intelligence service under the code name Gladio. Andreotti
added that it was still active and operational.
Under the chairmanship of Senator Giovanni Pellegrini, they heard witnesses, saw
documents, and presented a 326-page report in 2000.23 The former Communists
concluded that during the Cold War the secret Gladio army had, together with the
CIA, the Italian military intelligence service, and selected Italian neo-fascists,
fought the Italian Communists and Socialists for fear that they would betray NATO
“from within.” The report said: “Those massacres, those bombs, those military
actions had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state
institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the
structures of United States intelligence.”24”

The strategy of tension is almost constantly in motion, under many guises but to the same end: social control. A shattered and frightened society is easier to manipulate, and it’s going on all over the world. Here is an example Ganser cites near the end of his article:

“Following the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs
invasion in 1961, leading generals in the Pentagon, including Lemnitzer, argued that
strategy-of-tension techniques should be used against the US population in order to
create a pretext for war. Under the name “Operation Northwoods,” they developed a
set of combined strategy-of-tension operations designed to shock the US public and
discredit Castro.
At the time, President John F. Kennedy and his secretary of defense, Robert
McNamara, opposed such operations, which included killing US citizens and
involved a large-scale manipulation of the American population. Lemnitzer’s plan
was, accordingly, not implemented.46
As with most strategy-of-tension operations, many years went by before the
public learned of Operation Northwoods. Thanks to distinguished US researcher
James Bamford, the formerly top secret Operation Northwoods documents became
known to the public in April 2001, some months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks,
when Bamford published his book Body of Secrets: An Anatomy of the Ultra Secret
National Security Agency. This was 40 years after the Northwoods plans had been
stamped “top secret” inside the Pentagon. The original documents are now available
The Operation Northwoods documents specify how the Pentagon planned
strategy-of-tension operations. Among other actions, the US officers suggested
developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other
Florida cities and even in Washington,” faking a Cuban air force attack on a civilian
jetliner, “sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” and
concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a US ship in Cuban
waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage.
Ever since Bamford published the Operation Northwoods documents, those
interested in the strategy of tension have wondered how far certain radical groups
within the Pentagon were willing to go and what chance the US public and other
nations had of discovering and stopping such plans. Bamford wondered whether
Operation Northwoods was the most corrupt plan ever created by the US
government, or whether the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964—the incident that
provoked America’s full-fledged war in Vietnam, which led to the deaths of 56,000
US soldiers and 3 million Vietnamese—had been a typical strategy-of-tension
operation designed and carried out by the Pentagon. “[I]n light of the Operation
Northwoods documents,” Bamford concluded, “it is clear that deceiving the public
and trumping up wars for Americans to fight and die in was standard, approved
policy at the highest levels of the Pentagon.”48

In future articles we will take a look at the strategy of tension from different angles, and how it is affecting global change. For a complete copy of Gansers article, go to this link:


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One Response to “Gladio” And The Strategy Of Tension

  1. strategia della tensione – Noah begat 3 sons on October 7, 2016 at 8:24 am

    […] The targets are the political opponents, who are discredited through the attack, and those who remai…. […]

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