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“Eco Terrorists” Accused Of Plotting Against IBM Face Trial In Switzerland

Three go on trial for allegedly planning to bomb an IBM facility in Switzerland. Prosecutors say the accused have ties with an Italian anarchist group known as the FAI, which claims responsibility for several recent bomb attacks in southern Europe.

Anarchist graffiti in Lisbon, Portugal
Anarchist graffiti in Lisbon, Portugal
Denis Masmejan

BELLINZONA - A group of so-called "eco-terrorists' are set to appear this week before the Federal Criminal Court in this town in Switzerland, where they are accused of plotting to bomb an IBM research center in Ruschlikon.

According to the 2010 national security report by the Swiss Defense Department, the allegations are "of great importance" given that the region has experienced a recent wave of violent actions linked to left-wing extremism and "eco-terrorism."

The defendants, Italians Costantino Alfonso Ragusa, 36 and his wife Silvia Ragusa Guerini, 29, and Luca "Billy" Cristos Bernasconi, 26, of Switzerland, describe themselves as environmental, revolutionary and anarchist activists. The three face charges ranging from attempted arson, to trafficking of illegal explosive substances.

The defendants have been in custody since their arrest on April 15, 2010 outside of Zurich. In the trunk of their rental car, police found five propane bottles, 12 liters of benzene, two liters of engine oil and equipment for igniting the explosives. According to the police, the woman was in possession of two bags of explosive materials weighing 476 grams.

Police also found 31 letters claiming responsibility for a bombing that was allegedly planned for the new IBM building in Ruschlikon. The letters were signed by the Switzerland Earth Liberation Front. Prosecutors say they have no doubt the group was planning to bomb the IBM research center, which is still under construction.

Links to 1970s era terrorists

Several messages written by the defendants have been translated and published online by an anonymous source. In their letters, the alleged eco-terrorists complain about jail conditions and about the fact their mail is monitored. In protest, the detainees launched a hunger strike. Their messages reveal deep ideological convictions. One letter quotes Ulrike Meinhof, a member of the Red Army Faction, Germany's most violent and prominent left-wing terror groups founded in 1970.

"Against any state, priest or boss, against every prison and repression, against any exploitation of men by man, of women by men, of any other species by man and of nature by man," they explain in a written statement cosigned by Marco Camenisch, a well-known anarchist. Camenisch is currently serving time for killing a customs officer in Brusio, Switzerland.

The name Marco Camenisch along with the names of the three defendants appear in a letter apparently written by the Federazione Anarchica Informale (FAI), an Italian anarchist organization claiming responsibility for last March's parcel bomb attack on the Swiss nuclear headquarters in Olten. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured by the explosion. The FAI said it carried out the attack to protest the jailing of the four anarchists.

The FAI claims responsibility for several other bomb attacks as well. In Livorno, Italy a soldier lost eight fingers when a parcel bomb exploded. Another parcel bomb, in Athens, Greece, was defused in time. A third bomb attack took place last December in Rome. The targets in that case were the Chilean and Swiss embassies.

The Swiss Embassay had been hit two months earlier by a Molotov cocktail. The attackers reportedly left a message on the wall demanding freedom for the three defendants being held in Switzerland.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Cudmore

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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