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Red Brigades claim responsibility for slaying of Italian government adviser, praise Sept. 11 attacks

(ROME) - An offshoot of the Red Brigades terror group claimed responsibility for the slaying of a government adviser Thursday and praised the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.

The claim of responsibility was issued a day after Interior Minister Claudio Scajola publicly blamed the Red Brigades for the killing of economist Marco Biagi, who was working on labor reform _ a bitterly contested issue in Italy.

Biagi, a 52-year-old university professor, was the second economist working on labor reform to be gunned down in three years. The Red Brigades claimed it killed both men. Scajola said the same gun was used in both slayings.

The claim came at the beginning of a 26-page document written in turgid political prose which was e-mailed to an independent regional news agency, Caserta 24 Ore, which posted it on its Web site Thursday.

``An armed nucleus of our organization executed Marco Biagi,'' the document begins, saying he was targeted because his work as a consultant to the labor minister made him part of a government which ``represents the interests of bourgeois imperialism.''

The officer in charge of the case, Gen. Giampaolo Ganzer, head of the Carabinieri paramilitary police's anti-terror unit, was quoted as saying the claim appeared to be genuine.

The document attempts to portray Biagi's killing as part of a larger fight against what it calls ``imperialism.'' It praised the Sept. 11 attacks, saying they show ``how it is possible to carry out highly destructive attacks in enemy territory, with destabilizing effects, without the use of technologically advanced weapons.''

The statement said that U.S. military response to the Sept. 11 attack showed the ``need for the forging of alliances between anti-imperialistic forces and revolutionary forces in the regions of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.''

The document specifically complained about U.S. policy in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq.

The Red Brigades, along with rightist groups, bloodied Italy with terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 1980s. The group went dormant by the late 1980s.

Then, in 1999, an offshoot calling itself the Red Brigades for the Building of the Fighting Communist Party surfaced with a claim of responsibility for the killing of another economist working on labor reform, Massimo D'Antona.

D'Antona and Biagi both advocated measures to loosen Italy's labor market, one of the most rigid in Europe, by making it easier to fire workers.

The Interior Ministry has come under sharp criticism for removing Biagi's security detail after the Sept. 11 attacks to free up agents for anti-terrorism work.

Biagi had been given protection a year earlier, after a fire-bombing of a union office in Milan prompted police in several cities to assigned bodyguards to people working on labor reform.

Labor Minister Roberto Maroni said he asked for Biagi's protection to be restored recently when the debate over labor reform began to heat up.

Biagi's killing stunned the nation, which has been split over the conservative government's plans to change the labor laws. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Wednesday in Rome, Bologna and elsewhere to protest political violence.
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