Certainly he has not the fascinating look of a bin-Laden and does not live in the mysterious caves of the Hindu Kush, surely he has not the media appeal and the anchorman vocation which the ‘Master of Terror’ has shown to have in the last seven years; yet Roberto Sandalo (alias Robby the Mad or Commandant Franco) has more terrorist credentials than ‘Sheik Osama’. Roberto Sandalo, allegedly the leader of a Christian anti-Islamic terrorist movement called Fronte Combattente Cristiano or ‘Fighting Christian Front’.The mysterious group has been responsible, in the last year, for bomb attacks against Islamic centres and mosques as well as death threats to Muslims.
The Italian police arrested Mr Sandalo on 10th April 2008; he has subsequently confessed to the attacks, the foundation of the Christian terrorist organization as well as new plots. Mr Sandalo, who was a member of the Lega Nord and subsequently expelled for providing a false name, has been an infamous, bloody killer and terrorist for Prima Linea (Front Line), a Communist terrorist organization similar to the Red Brigades. Mr Sandalo has justified his actions, and future plans to continue a terrorist campaign against Muslims, such as Dr Gonzaga, director of Islamic Relief Italy, as a fight in the name of Jesus against ‘Islamofascism’. The Italian authorities are still investigating the international links of the organization and the official number of members; another four people have been arrested today, among them Maurizio Peruzzi, an expert in chemistry and explosives. I am sure that this will not be the first or last of these anti-Muslim terrorist groups, yet I am not surprised that the first one started in Italy. As I have highlighted in another post, Muslims in Italy suffer, particularly from the extreme right, forms of discrimination as well as violence, and the Lega North is certainly one of the most anti-Muslims parties of Europe.
To tell the truth, I thought that news about the first Christian anti-Muslim terrorist group would have attracted international attention and fostered new debates. Think, indeed, if the terrorist’s name instead of Roberto was something like Muhammad; imagine the titles, the talks, the politicians’ words and the special legislations proposed. Well, we do not have very much to imagine, we need only to open a British newspaper.
But the news about a self-defined Christian terrorist and a Christian (mainly Catholic) terrorist organization has attracted virtually no attention. Nothing can be found, (at the moment in which I am writing) on the BBC (even BBC Europe) or the main British newspapers or the US. Furthermore, even those Italian newspapers which have dealt with the story, have not called the attacks, before often dismissed as the work of immigrants’ rackets and mafia, Christian terrorism, or referred to Mr Sandalo as a Christian terrorist (despite his own claim!). ‘How is it possible to kill in the name of Jesus?’ Many have asked. Well, history surely has the answer. It is not the first time; it will not be the last. I had the impression that many Italians (and by extension Europeans and Americans) would perceive as less dramatic the killing of people in a mosque than in a Church.
I have the impression that after so many wars against Muslim countries, audiences are becoming used to seeing Muslims dead, and, in some cases, some people maybe start to prefer them as such. None of the Italian or European politicians have condemned the actions, and plans, of the Fighting Christian Front. None of the clergy or the Pope has condemned or commented upon the actions committed in the name of Jesus. The message is clear: a mad Marxist – now fanatic Catholic – is perceived for what he is, a violent fool; while a mad Muslim who dreams of violent jihad is perceived as the correct expression of his religion.
I wish also to point out Mr Sandalo’s reference to ‘Islamofascim’. Check today (13th of April) Jihad Watch’s page, Mr Spencer reports different events, some surely explosive, but not one word, not one comment about the Fighting Christian Front. Of course, Mr Spencer only watches jihad, but the fact that Mr Sandalo refers to the concept of Islamofascism perhaps would be enough to report, and condemn, Sandalo’s actions. Indeed, I have the impression, but we need more investigation, that Sandalo and his group may have been inspired by a certain language, ideology and viewpoints expressed often in a post-Marxist way. I find intriguing how many post-Marxists, among which we can mention David Horowitz, have turned their attention and criticism to Islam, but I leave this reflection to a future post.
Control over rhetoric can sometimes be difficult. Within the movements which supported the so called IslamoFascism Awareness Week and which claim Islam to be nothing else than a form of Nazism and Fascism (see for instance Geert Wilders, the author of the recent controversial film Fitna) starts to form a grey area of violent, racist and often really fascist supporters. I suppose that neither Mr Spencer nor Mr Horowitz would support Mr Sandalo’s group and views. I even think that Geert Wilders would feel disgusted by such violent terrorist intents. Indeed, in Geert Wilders’s own words, he ‘does not hate Muslims, but Islam’. The only issue, as I have argued in my recent book, is that Islam does not exist without Muslims; hence, hating Islam ends in encouraging actions against Muslims, as hating Judaism is nothing else than hating Jews.
Although, after the Holocaust, the majority of people seem to have finally grasped that hating Judaism as a religion can only end in hating Jews as people, and possibly looking for ‘final solutions’; in the case of Islam we have a clear situation in which this simple observation is not accepted. There is, also among politicians, such as Calderoli and other exponents of the Lega Nord, the idea that ‘holocausting’ Islam does not imply persecuting and killing Muslims. Mr Sandalo, with Marxist real politick, has better grasped the point. Certain recent, post 9/11 rhetoric is inspiring more and more Mr Sandalos; yet politicians, journalists and the general public seem to ignore the danger as much as many did in the 1930s, when the target of Mr Sandalo would have been Rabbis and Synagogues.
There are lessons which the increasing supporters of ‘anti-Islamofasicsm’ may learn from the history of communist terrorism in Italy, of which Mr Sandalo is one of the products. The Italian Communist Party, and the trade unions, of which many members shared with the Red Brigades and other subversive organisations much of the ideological rhetoric and slogans, quickly understood the importance of condemning and isolating the violent, terrorist components. Had they not done so, they would have ended absorbed and monopolized by the terrorist organization. Would the new anti-Islamic movements, which however reject violence, have the same courage or rather stupidly hope to manipulate such terrorist violence for their own ideological aims for a supremacist Christian (for some, often white) western anachronistic dream?
There is a saying, often attributed to Pope Bonifacious VIII which states ‘Qui tacet consentiret’ (i.e. Silence gives consent). In the case of the Fighting Christian Front, it is clear that the consentientibus among the self-labelled Christians are too many. Jesus can only cry.