Yesterday, David Hazony commented on an interview that former Italian president Francesco Cossiga gave to the Italian daily Il Corriere Della Sera. In the interview, Cossiga dropped a political bomb–something he is fond of doing–by saying that the Bologna train station massacre of 1980 was not the doing of neo-Fascist terrorists, but the accidental explosion of two explosive laden suitcases that Palestinian couriers were taking through Italy. He went on to explain that there existed an agreement between Italy’s government and Palestinian groups which allowed Palestinians to roam free with arms and impunity across the Italian peninsula in exchange for a guarantee that Palestinians would not carry out any attack inside Italy.
One correction is in order about David’s posting: first, Cossiga was indeed President when the Achille Lauro hijacking took place–he had been in office for four months by then. However, Italy’s president has a largely ceremonial role and Cossiga had no direct role in the ensuing events–including the one played by Italian forces at the Sicilian air base of Sigonella, where terrorist Abu Abbas was taken away from the hands of American forces and ceremoniously allowed to escape by the Italian government. The real culprit in the affair was then-Prime Bettino Craxi (now deceased), leader of the Italian Socialists and a longtime friend of the PLO. He was the one to blame for letting Abbas slip; he was responsible for one of the worst bilateral crises in the history of Italian-American relations. Cossiga has his faults, but that’s not one of them.