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Document: Gladio Leaders Trained at U.S. Base in Germany

November 16, 1990

ROME (AP) _ Officials involved in a secret European resistance network underwent training at a U.S. base in West Germany in the 1970s, according to confidential documents obtained Friday.

The documents also disclosed that French and British officials involved in the network visited a training base built with U.S. money to train Italian members of Operation Gladio, as the resistance network is known.

The documents sum up secret judicial testimony by Italian officials and indicate a higher level of European coordination in the anti-Communist network than had been revealed.

They also were the first official corroboration of reports that the guerrilla organization existed in Britain.

Also Friday, the German government announced that a branch of the secret organization still exists in that country, and will be dissolved.

The guerrilla groups were formed throughout Europe after World War II by secret services to create a resistance movement or gather intelligence in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion.

They were made up of civilians and coordinated at least in part by NATO, according to officials who were involved. Some groups received CIA funds, they say.

An Italian parliamentary committee that oversees secret services on Friday held a second day of closed hearings on Operation Gladio. Premier Giulio Andreotti, who first disclosed the existence of the network last month, testified.

Two Venice judges, Carlo Mastelloni and Felice Casson, have been investigating whether the network was linked to a series of terrorist bombings in Italy from 1969 to the early 1980s, when the Communists, Italy’s No. 2 party, came to the brink of power.

A military intelligence official who supervised the operation from late 1971 to 1974 told Mastelloni that eight to 10 instructors of the guerrillas went to the main U.S. base in West Germany in 1972. There, they took part in a ″simulated exercise″ of enemy occupation, said Gen. Gerardo Serravalle.

A summary of his secret testimony was obtained by The Associated Press from a parliamentary source.

According to the testimony, U.S. intelligence officials invited the Italians back for another training exercise in 1974.

Serravalle said an Italian training base was established on the island of Sardinia in the 1960s under a secret NATO accord.

The United States provided money for construction and for the first arms shipments, which included pistols and magnesium and plastic explosives, according to the testimony.

Serravalle said Italian and British Gladio organizers exchanged visits in 1972 and 1973, and that ″similar visits were made by two French officials″ to the Italian base in 1974.

The British government has refused to confirm the existence of a domestic resistance network. On Friday, Defense Secretary Tom King told reporters he had never heard of Gladio.

French officials have said they had such a group but that it withered away years ago.

Serravalle said he attended meetings in Paris, London, Brussels and Luxembourg of European officials involved in the network.

His former superior, Gen. Fausto Fortunato, testified that during his tenure, from 1971-74, the NATO committee overseeing the resistance groups included France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.