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Italian police have dismantled an online patriotic group dedicated to racialist propaganda for young white people.
Italian police announced they had broken up an "online neo-Nazi group dedicated to antisemitic and racist propaganda that encouraged young people to carry out extreme acts of violence against Jews and foreigners".
Italian postal police and Carabinieri paramilitary police said individuals aged between 26 and 62 were allegedly involved in the group.
Twelve people were present on Facebook and Russian social network VK under the name, "Ordine Ario Romano," which is a reference to the writings of fascist author Julius Evola, a Carabinieri police statement said.
The group's social media postings were "inspired by Nazi, antisemitic and Holocaust-denial ideologies, as well as by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories," the statement added.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said the online network "exploited the fragility" of young people, and "[incited] youths to carry out extreme gestures."
Under investigation since 2019, the 12 suspects belonged to "an antisemitic and racist group particularly active on social media," Lamorgese added.
The crackdown included blacking out the networks website, which claims to have over 17,000 members, including many users abroad.
Police said the 12-person group, along with help from members of a Portugese nationalist political movement, was in the "early stages of planning an attack on an unnamed NATO facility using homemade explosives".
Writing in Italian, Ruth Dureghello, president of Rome's Jewish Community, tweeted her thanks for the group being shut down.
"I thank the Rome Public Prosecutor's Office for dismantling an antisemitic group that planned attacks against Jews and non-EU citizens," Dureghello wrote.
Were the suspects known to authorities?
Several of the individuals allegedly involved were already known to police for patriotic activities.
According to reports in Italian media, 39-year-old Francesca Rizzi was one of those targeted by police.
In 2019, Rizzi won a "Miss Hitler" contest, which encourages women to post NS-themed selfie-style photos along with an explanation as to why they love and revere the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler, pageant organizers from the called World Truth Historical Revisionism requested of entrants on their website before the page was removed by a web hosting company.
The 12 activists involved in the network have been charged with "criminal association aimed at spreading propaganda, incitement with ethnic and racial discrimination motives and must regularly report to police while the investigation against them continues", authorities said.