Italian police have dismantled an online neo-Nazi group spreading anti-Semitic and racist propaganda that urged young people to perpetrate acts of violence against Jews and immigrants, reported Deutsche Welle.
Italian postal police and Carabinieri police stated that the arrested individuals were between the ages of 26 and 62.
The 12 suspects were part of “Ordine Ario Romano” which ran groups on Facebook and Russian social media site VK. The name is a reference to the racist writings credited to fascist figure Julius Evola, stated the Carabinieri.
They added that the group’s posts were "inspired by Nazi, anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial ideologies, as well as by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.”
The social media groups "exploited the fragility" of young people, and "[incited] youths to carry out extreme gestures,” stated Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese.
Lamorgese said that the suspects had been under investigation since 2019.
As part of the arrests, police shut down the hate group’s website, which allegedly had over 17,000 users, many from other countries.
The 12-member neo-Nazi group, along with a Portuguese extremist movement, was reportedly in the early stages of planning an attack on a NATO facility. They were going to use homemade explosives.
The president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, thanked Rome’s authorities for shutting down the group in a statement in Italian.
"I thank the Rome Public Prosecutor's Office for dismantling an anti-Semitic group that planned attacks against Jews and non-EU citizens," Dureghello tweeted.
"Today, the antisemitic propaganda on social media is a prelude to other forms of violence. We cannot lower our guard."