Mapping Militant Organizations
|First Attack||September 22, 1970: GAP members staged explosions at two construction sites in Milan. (0 killed) |
|Last Attack||March 14, 1972: Three GAP members, including founder Feltrinelli, attempted to blow up a power pylon in Milan. Feltrinelli was killed when the bomb went off early. (1 killed, 2 wounded) |
|Updated||June 20, 2012|
Partisan Action Groups (GAP) was the second left-wing terrorist organization to form in Italy. It was smaller and less violent than later Italian terrorist groups. Its purported goal was to ward off a feared fascist coup d'etat.  GAP's targets did not clearly reflect this aim, however. The group staged mostly sabotage attacks against corporate properties and does not seem to have successfully attacked any Italian right-wing groups. 
GAP is best known for its founder, the wealthy publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. GAP was significant less for its handful of successful sabotage attacks than for Feltrinelli's international connections and his influence on later groups through his publishing company. Feltrinelli had ties to Latin American Communists, including Fidel Castro.  His publishing company published Italian translations of their theoretical and tactical writings. These works influenced the ideology and tactics of later Italian left-wing terrorist groups. 
GAP took its name and principles from the Italian left-wing groups, known as partisans, that had fought the fascists during World War II. Feltrinelli planned to eventually launch attacks from the mountains as the partisans had done, but GAP conducted attacks primarily in cities throughout its short lifespan.
The group largely dissolved after Feltrinelli accidentally died planting an explosive. The Red Brigades absorbed some of its remaining membership.
GAP's chief aim was to prevent a fascist coup d'etat. The group sought to prevent it in part by creating squads of guerrilla fighters modeled after those that had fought the fascists in World War II.  These fighters had been known as partisans. Some of GAP's members were former partisans, and some were former members of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) who felt the party was too reformist and too accommodating to the right wing.
Feltrinelli financed the group himself with money from his successful publishing empire.  He bought their guns and paid for the apartments they used as bases.
GAP was most strongly influenced ideologically and tactically by Latin American revolutionaries including Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. GAP founder Feltrinelli's publishing company published Italian translations of their writings. Feltrinelli himself had visited Latin American and knew Castro personally. 
The group also had ties in Europe. Feltrinelli acquired arms from countries such as Lichtenstein and Czechoslovakia, which had more liberal gun laws than Italy, though GAP was not directly sponsored by any state. 
GAP operated in Milan, Genoa, and Trento. 
GAP targeted symbols of industry and capitalism like construction
yards.  The group planned to conduct guerrilla war from
the mountains but was based in cities throughout its short
lifespan.  The group did not successfully target either state symbols or fascist groups, though the allied October 22 Circle did.
GAP conducted sabotage attacks against property with bombs and incendiary devices. No killings are attributed directly to GAP, though founder Feltrinelli aided the assassination of a Bolivian official in Germany involved in the capture and death of Che Guevara. 
GAP members included former Communists who had left the party disillusioned, finding its stance too gradualist. GAP founder Feltrinelli in particular had financed the Italian Communist Party (PCI) prior to the mid 1950s. He broke with the Communists after the Soviet Union's suppression of the Hungarian uprising. 
Feltrinelli wielded a great deal of political influence through his publishing company. He published his own political writings as well as those of other left-wing thinkers, especially Latin American revolutionaries.  GAP also spread propaganda by hijacking television waves. 
leader Feltrinelli advocated coordination among both the legal and the
clandestine Italian leftist groups  and likely financed other left-wing
terrorist organizations.  GAP's
greatest influence on other groups was through Feltrinelli's publishing house,
which published Italian translations of the writings of Latin American
GAP's ties were strongest to the Genoa-based left-wing terrorist group October 22 Circle. GAP helped the group claim attacks through hijacked state television waves and may have participated in the attacks themselves.  GAP absorbed the remainder of the October 22 Circle after most of the Circle's members were arrested. 
Feltrinelli tried to strike an alliance with the Red Brigades but was rebuffed because the BR's leaders did not share his preoccupation with the possibility of a coup nor his ambition to stage guerilla attacks from the mountains.  Many of GAP's remaining members and bases were absorbed by the BR after Feltrinelli's death. 
Feltrinelli also financially supported Germany's Red Army Faction (RAF).  Feltrinelli's gun was used to assassinate the Bolivian consul-general, who had played a role in the capture and death of Che Guevara, in Hamburg on April 1, 1971. 
Feltrinelli also had personal and ideological ties to the legal left-wing group Worker Power (PO) and its militant wing Illegal Work (LI), and may have helped fund them.