Reportage. After the Manchester attack and ahead of the G7 in Taormina, Italy is preparing for a boots-on-the-ground security strategy.

Italian minister announces ‘new security model’

Italian Minister of Interior Affairs Marco Minniti reacted to the massacre of children in Manchester — which he defines as “distressing” and “chilling” — before an audience of the national congress of the police union Coisp. To put things into perspective, in recent years there has been a frontal attack against Federico Aldrovandi’s mother and Stefano Cucchi’s sister (Italians killed in police custody).

Minniti said that with the attack at Manchester Arena, we are facing a “more complex organization” than the “lone wolves” seen in action in Berlin, London, Stockholm or Paris. “Explosives were used, and we do not know whether the bombers were acting alone. It seems there are links with Libya.”

Considering the peculiarities of the Manchester attack and the new scenario that is emerging from this mode of Islamic terrorism (“multifaceted and with zero predictability”), Minniti announced a “new Italian security model” to replace the now obsolete framework that has been in place for “roughly 70 years.” And in order to do that, we have to “start from the revival of the national police forces, starting with the State Police, and strengthen the relationship with the mayors. This is strategic because they know the local areas thoroughly.”

“We cannot allow anyone to steal the future of our societies,” said the minister, referring to the “chilling massacre of teenagers, children, the treasure of our society.” But the intelligence actions — even though “it is a business not only entrusted to the secret services, but an integral part of police work” — are not enough, according to the Minister of Interior Affairs.

“In addition to the modern need for an effective control of the territory, an ancient strategy, but in the face of zero predictability, the only thing that really works is to be physically present on the field.” We urgently need “a new 121 law,” the public security system implemented in 1981. Besides, said Minniti in his conclusion, “the Council of Ministers has already received the enabling act for the reorganization of the police workforce with an allocation of €1 billion.” The agents are grateful for it, but the problem stands.

Especially urgent is the security problem in Taormina where, on Friday and Saturday, seven heads of state and government will gather for the G7 summit. The city is militarized: 7,000 agents and military personnel in defense of a red zone that is already off limits to anyone without a special permit. There is a navigation ban in front of Taormina and a flying ban above it. A video surveillance system covers both terrestrial and aerial feeds, with helicopters and drones. There are metal detectors at the entrance and inside the Palazzo dei Congressi and in all other places used for meetings of international delegations.

Everything will be managed from an interagency room activated at Palazzo Dei Duchi di Santo Stefano, in which “there is also a space for international police cooperation service, with representatives of Europol, Interpol and six members of the foreign delegations” as reported by local authorities. Of course, the hotels that will host diplomats are heavily fortified. In particular there is “Villa Flora,” whose 31 rooms and two suites will be available for Donald Trump’s staff. All that’s missing is the trained anti-drone eagle, like they had for the NATO summit in Brussels.

Still, police chief Franco Gabrielli, referring to the risk of terrorist attacks, said: “The G7? I am more worried about the everyday risk.”

Yet, on orders of Mayor Nello Lo Turco, on Saturday Taormina will be virtually isolated, with the closure of the Giardini Naxos and Letojanni railway stations and the cancellation of alternative bus connections. The schools will also be closed. The reason? To prevent participation in the “No G7” protest to be held in the afternoon on the city’s seafront promenade of Giardini Naxos, where thousands of protesters are expected.

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