Licio Gelli’s downfall started with the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, which led to a 1981 police raid on his villa and the discovery of the P2 covert lodge. Banco Ambrosiano was Italy’s largest private bank but collapsed with $1bn of debts.
On March 17, 1981, a police raid on his villa in Arezzo led to the discovery of a list of 962 persons composed of Italian military officers and civil servants involved in Propaganda Due (also known as “P2”), a clandestine lodge expelled from the Grande Oriente d’Italia Masonic organization.
Gelli had been periodically on the run since 1981 when he fled to Switzerland after P2 was unearthed during an inquiry into Roberto Calvi, a freemason who was found hanged from London’s Blackfriars Bridge.
Gelli was responsible for providing Argentina with the Exocet missile. He was a double agent for the CIA and the KGB. He assisted many former Nazi high officials in their escape from Europe to Central America. He had close ties with the Italian Mafia. Gelli was a close associate of Benito Mussolini’s fascist elite. He was also closely affiliated with Roberto Calvi, head of the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank.
During the 1930s, Licio Gelli volunteered for the “Black Shirts” expeditionary forces sent by Mussolini to Spain in support to Francisco Franco, and subsequently became a liaison officer between the Italian blackshirts government and the Third Reich, with contacts including Hermann Göring.
The foundation of Gelli’s wealth is from his plundering of Yugoslavia’s treasures that were hidden in the town of Cattaro where Gelli then made his headquarters. Legend held that Gelli made his fortune by helping “escort” a Red Cross-marked train loaded with 55 tons of plundered Yugoslav gold in 1942. At the end of the War Gelli saved his life by agreeing to spy for the Communists.
He operated the “Rat Line” which orchestrated the escape of hundreds of indicted or suspected Nazi War Criminals, “Scientists”, and Nazi Intelligence Officers including likely Klaus Barbie the Butcher of Lyon, Via Switzerland to South America under the direction of O.S.S./C.I.A., and M.I.5 using the code name “Operation Paperclip”. He charged 40 percent of their money.
Gelli collaborated with American and English intelligence agencies after World War II. Gelli also joined the neofascist MSI, which gave him parliamentary immunity. In the early 1950s, the United States began training networks of “stay behind” volunteers in Western Europe, so that in the event of a Soviet invasion, they would “gather intelligence, open escape routes and form resistance movements.” The CIA financed and advised these groups, later working in tandem with western European military intelligence units under the coordination of a NATO committee. In 1990, Italian and Belgian investigators started researching the links between these “stay behind armies” and the occurrence of terrorism in Western Europe for a period of 20 years.
The CIA operations Gladio was on behalf of NATO by the Italian military secret service SIFAR. They had weapons and explosives, storage and trained specialists who could carry out covert operations. Gladio and P-2 pursued, in consultation with Washington, the same goal: preventing the Italian Communists and Socialists from attaining power.
In the mid-1960s P2 had only fourteen members, but in 1970 Salvini asked Gelli to ‘restructure’ the lodge. Suddenly numbers soared. Within a decade it had 400 members, a few years later almost 1,000. Gelli has received all the credit and blame for this achievement, but Gamberini supervised many of the initiation ceremonies which Gelli performed in P2’s Excelsior Hotel headquarters. Grand Master Salvini was just as involved.
The P2 had a penchant for secret rituals and exotic covert ops against what it considered Communist-based threats. P-2 members swear to have their throats slit and tongues cut out rather than break their oaths of secrecy and loyalty.
During the years that the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli (1976-1981), P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi, and corruption cases within the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire.
Notably, the then future Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was on the list, although he had not yet entered elective politics at the time. Another famous member was Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, the current head of the House of Savoy. A document was also found in the possession of Licio Gelli titled “Piano di Rinascita Democratica” (Democratic Rebirth Plan) which amounted to a declaration of the lodge’s intent; essentially, Gelli’s goal was to form a new political and economical elite to lead Italy towards a more authoritarian form of democracy, in an anti-communist perspective. “The objective of the division of the trade-union must be a priority,” the Plan stated, in order to re-unify it with members sensitive to the Plan’s objectives
Silvio Berlusconi, businessman, founder of the Forza Italia political party and Prime Minister of Italy.
Michele Sindona, banker linked to the Mafia.
Roberto Calvi, so-called “banker of God”, killed by the Mafia.
Umberto Ortolani, leading P2-member.
Franco Di Bella, director of Corriere della Sera. Di Bella had commissioned a long interview with Gelli, who openly talked of his plans for a “democratic renaissance” in Italy – including control over the media. The interview was carried out by the television talk show host Maurizio Costanzo, who would also be exposed as a member of P2.
Angelo Rizzoli, owner of Corriere della Sera, today cinema producer.
Bruno Tassan Din, general director of Corriere della Sera.
General Vito Miceli, chief of the SIOS (Servizio Informazioni), Italian Army Intelligence’s Service from 1969 and SID’s head from October 18, 1970 to 1974. Arrested in 1975 on charges of “conspiration against the state” concerning investigations about Rosa dei venti, a state-infiltrated group involved in the strategy of tension, he later became an Italian Social Movement (MSI) member.
Federico Umberto D’Amato, leader of an intelligence cell (Ufficio affari riservati) in the Italian Minister of Interior, former chief of the police under Mussolini.
Federico Carlos Barttfeld (Argentina), ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995, under-secretary of state in Nestor Kirchner’s government, relieved of his functions in 2003 following allegations of involvement in the Dirty War.
Emilio Massera (Argentina), a member of the military junta led by Jorge Rafael Videla in Buenos Aires from 1976 to 1978.
Jose Lopez Rega (Argentina), Argentinian minister of Social Welfare in Peron’s government, founder of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (“Triple A”).
General Giuseppe Santovito, head of the military intelligence service SISMI (1978-1981).
Admiral Giovanni Torrisi, Chief of the General Staff of the Army.
General Giulio Grassini, head of the intelligence service SISDE (1977-1981).
General Pietro Musumeci, deputy director of Italy’s military intelligence service, SISMI.
General Franco Picchiotti.
General Giovambattista Palumbo.
General Raffaele Giudice, commander of the Guardia di Finanza (1974-1978). Appointed by Giulio Andreotti, Giudice conspired with oil magnate Bruno Musselli and others in a lucrative tax fraud of as much as $2.2 billion.
General Orazio Giannini, commander of the Guardia di Finanza (1980-1981). On the day the list was discovered Giannini phoned the official in charge of the operation, and told him (according the official’s testimony to the parliamentary commission): “You better know that you’ve found some lists. I’m in those lists be careful, because so too are all the highest echelons (I understood ‘of the state’) … Watch out, the Force will be overwhelmed by this.”
Carmine Pecorelli, a controversial journalist assassinated on March 20, 1979. He had drawn connections in a May 1978 article between Aldo Moro’s kidnap and Gladio.
Maurizio Costanzo, popular television talk show host of Mediaset programmes (Mediaset is Berlusconi’s commercial television empire).
Pietro Longo, secretary of the Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI).
Fabrizio Cicchitto, member of the Italian Socialist Party, who later joined Berlusconi’s centre-right party Forza Italia.
* Colonel Italo Poggiolini
* Giovambattista Palumbo
* General Pietro Musumeci
* Twll Dydindi Pharoh
* Giuseppe Siracusano
* Giovanni Allavena
* Franco Picchioni
* Giulio Grassini
* Colonel Antonio Labruna
* Colonel Manlio del Gaudio
* General Giuseppe Santovito
* Judge Giuseppe Renato Croce
* Judge Giovanni Palai
* Walter Pelosi (director of CESIS from 1978 to 1981)
* Gustavo Selva, journalist and National Alliance deputy
* Pietro Longo, secretary of the Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI)
* Publio Fiori, Democrazia Cristiana deputy, transferred to National Alliance in 1994, minister under Berlusconi’s government
* Antonio Martino, minister under Berlusconi’s government (aspirant to P2)
* Duilio Poggiolini
* Massimo de Carolis, Democrazia Cristiana in the 1970s, now member of Forza Italia, ex-president of Milan’s municipal council thanks to Berlusconi’s help
* Angelo de Carolis, politician
* Mario Tedeschi, politician
* Enrico Manca, socialist politician
* Pierluigi Accornero, businessman
* Mario Lebole, businessman
* Jorge de Souza, Brazil
* Pedro dos Santos, Brazil
* Claudio Perez Barruna, Costa Rica
* Osvaldo Brama, Dakar
* Guido Ruta, United States
* Randolph K. Stone, Los Angeles, USA
* Dott. Hatz Olah, Melbourne, Australia
Mafioso Roberto Calvi, known as “God’s Banker” for his work with the Vatican, was murdered in June 1982 by being hung from scaffolding beneath the Blackfriars bridge in London. His bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, had siphoned off up to $1.5 billion dollars from the Vatican Bank, which was the Banco Ambrosiano’s main shareholder, and various other papal and Mafia sources for illegal currency export. Five days before his murder, Calvi warned Pope John Paul II of the forthcoming collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano due to spreading knowledge of a massive “hole” in their assets which could not be covered up: “[this will] provoke a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions in which the Church will suffer the greatest damage.”
There were plenty of reasons to suspect foul play in Calvi’s death. On a purely physical level it seemed improbable that Calvi could have climbed from Blackfriars bridge onto the scaffolding from which his corpse was found hanging – a later forensic examination would reveal that no traces of paintwork, rust or significantly brick, limestone or basalt under Calvi’s fingertips, traces that should have been there had he climbed onto scaffolding, and handled brickwork. And that brings us on to the bricks – Calvi’s body was found with bricks in his jacket pockets, and bizarrely in his crotch area (inserted through the fly). That the bricks had been picked up by Calvi and used to weigh his body down seems implausible to almost all apart from the original coroner’s inquest.
Calvi was in charge of an organisation that laundered money made largely from the heroin trade for the mafia. He knew the dark financial secrets of the Vatican. Letters of comfort to offshore companies which he created were signed by Archbishop Marcinkus, a Chicago-born prelate and key Vatican insider who has never faced an interview or charges.
Calvi’s mentor Michele Sindona was friends with former US President Richard Nixon. Sindona died in prison in 1986 poisoned by coffee laced with cyanide.