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This episode features descriptions of kidnapping, terrorism and violence that some people may find disturbing. We advise caution for listeners under 13.


March 16th, 1978, should have been one of the greatest days of Eldo Moro's life after decades of civil service and two terms as prime minister, the Italian politician would finally unite his country Morrow's party, the conservative Christian Democrats and the far left Communist Party.


We're about to agree to a historic compromise. For the first time, the communists would have an active voice in Italy's government. Maura hope this would end the social unrest and radical terrorist activity that had nearly torn Italy apart.


But some Italians weren't happy with his efforts. As a precaution against a possible attack, Morell's bodyguards followed him everywhere. His security team took alternate routes to his office every day.


They thought this would be enough, so much so that Mauro's bodyguards kept their weapons locked in the trunk.


Today, this proved to be a fatal mistake.


On his way to parliament, Maroa turned onto a narrow street. Suddenly, the car in front of his house made an abrupt stop. Another pulled up behind him, blocking the politician and his bodyguards in a group of heavily armed terrorists emerged from both vehicles.


Two more groups leapt out from the bushes on either side of the street.


The gunmen fired, killing four of Moreau's bodyguards and fatally wounding another. The terrorists pulled the blood soaked politician from his car 55 days later.


Italian police would recover his corpse.


To this day, Mauro's whereabouts following his kidnapping remain a mystery, as are the identities of the terrorists and exactly who they were working for.


Perhaps they were radicals who opposed morals, legislation, or maybe, just maybe, Mauro's killers were members of his own party.


Welcome to Conspiracy Theories, a PA cast original every Monday and Wednesday, we dig into the complicated stories behind the world's most controversial events and search for the truth.


I'm Carter Roy. And I'm Molly Brandenberg.


And neither of us are conspiracy theorists, but we are open minded, skeptical and curious. Don't get us wrong. Sometimes the official version is the truth, but sometimes it's not.


You can find episodes of conspiracy theories and all other precast originals for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream conspiracy theories for free on Spotify, just open the app and type conspiracy theories in the search bar.


This is our first episode on the mysterious kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro. The story of his death is almost too strange to believe, and it just might be this episode.


We'll discuss the official story. We'll see how 1970s terrorist activity transformed Italy into a war zone. We'll also examine how Eldo Moreau's fight for compromise earned him enemies on both sides of the political spectrum.


Next time, we'll explore the outside influences that may have caused Mauro's death. Perhaps his own party considered him too much of a threat. Or maybe he was taken out by the CIA a.


We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. In the summer of 1940, World War Two seemed to be nearing its end on the European front, the Nazis had taken France and now they set their sights on England. That June, fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini declared that his country would join Germany in their attempt to conquer their continent.


Much of the Italian public and Mussolini's advisers opposed his decision to aid the Germans. In fact, many historians believe that low morale contributed to Italy's defeat during World War Two over a series of failed campaigns. Italy lost over 3000 soldiers.


In the midst of these defeats, Mussolini promoted fascism, a political ideology that prioritizes violent nationalism over individual rights. Fascists view their nation and its authoritarian leaders with extremely high regard, often bordering on worship.


Although Mussolini wasn't religious, he recognized the benefit of having the church on his side in an effort to woo the pope, the dictator had his wife and son baptized. He invited Catholic priests to deliver mass at fascist rallies, and he donated money to the Vatican. Gradually, Pope Pius the 11th became a reluctant ally.


Many Italians took the church's stance as a betrayal. They turned to communism, the ideal that political power should be in the hands of the people and directly opposed both fascism and organized religion out of this communist revival group, the Partito Communist Italiano, also known as the PCI or the Italian Communist Party.


They led the charge against Mussolini, freeing political prisoners and destroying fascist iconography and statues.


Shortly after the allies invaded Italy, Mussolini's government voted him out of power. Unwilling to admit defeat, he showed up to parliament. The next day, he was quickly arrested.


And two years later, on April 28th, 1945, Italian communists killed Mussolini.


By the time of Mussolini's death, Catholics had gotten used to their faith being represented in fascist politics to preserve their power. They formed the Democracia Cristiana or the Christian Democrats.


While Americans may think of Democrats as the Liberal Party, the Italian Christian Democrats were right wing and their reputation as fascist collaborators would haunt them for decades.


But both the Christian Democrats and the Communists knew that Italy's stability was more important than interparty bickering. They agreed to cooperate. After Mussolini's death, the politicians established a bipartisan group of 18 Italians to draft a new constitution. Their youngest member was Aldo ReMail Luigi Mauro, a 29 year old law professor and devoted Christian Democrat. Although the party was new, he'd adhere to its values his entire life and strongly opposed fascism.


Like many young Catholics, Morreau believe that Mussolini's uprising had succeeded because secular Italians had lost their ethics when they abandoned their faith. Fascists had overtaken the government because the church had no formal influence in the country's operations.


Therefore, Mauro concluded that empowering Catholics was the best way to ensure that such a catastrophe could never happen again.


In short, Mora opposed fascism but still wanted Italy to have a strong central government with Catholic leaders. He believed that the diametrically opposed Christian Democrats and communist parties could come together, putting Italy's people first.


But most Italians couldn't accept that the church and communism could coexist, and Mauro's ideology made him enemies.


Even on the other side of the world, the United States resisted communism in all its forms. They employed a policy of containment rather than face their enemy directly. The U.S. influenced other countries to overthrow their communist governments. According to declassified documents. The CIA even interfered in the 1948 Italian election, hoping to sway Italy towards Christian Democrat control.


The United States saw the 1948 election as a potential turning point in the Cold War against communist Russia, according to former CIA agent F.. Mark Whyatt, the USSR had supplied Italy's Communist Party with up to 10 million dollars in 1947, hoping to sway the vote and to combat the Soviet influence.


CIA operatives also poured cash into Italy from the 1948 election until well into the 1960s. The CIA spent an average of five million dollars per year to fight Italian communism. Although most of this activity was classified, it was common knowledge among the Italian political elite.


Thanks to the Americans influence, the Christian Democrats pushed the Communist Party out of power in the election. The new prime minister, al Qaeda Degassed Sperry, sought to solidify Italy's status as an anti Soviet and therefore anti-communist nation. In 1949, Italy joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, thereby taking the United States side in the Cold War. Even as the government adopted an anti-communist stance, Morell maintained his original position that the two political parties should cooperate and ordinary people seem to agree with him.


In 1963, 47 year old Aldo Mora became prime minister on a platform of centrism and social reform, despite opposition from his fellow Christian Democrats. He managed to pass housing reforms, strengthen Social Security and unemployment benefits and raise the Italian minimum wage. This angered his fiscally and socially conservative allies within the party.


Meanwhile, a rift grew between the government and the people it allegedly represented. While officials shied away from entitlement programs, blue collar voters railed against Italy's capitalist system.


Strikes cost the country 28 million hours of labor in 1967. In two years, that number rose to 230 million. The right wing government cracked down on these protests with brutal police action, resulting in civilian casualties to the Italian working class. It was clear that their country was once again at risk of becoming a fascist dictatorship, and their fears were justified.


Just 25 years after Italians reformed their shattered government, state and cultural leaders openly praised the beliefs of Hitler and Mussolini. Fascist agitators known as Blackshirts took to the streets and began a campaign of terrorist bombings. They carried out 96 such attacks in 1969 alone.


On December 12th, 1969, a bomb exploded at the Piazza Fontana in Milan, killing at least 13 and injuring nearly 100 more simultaneously. Three more explosions in Rome harmed 16 people and a third undetonated bomb was discovered in an opera house in Milan.


At first, the police blamed the attacks on anarchists, but it eventually became clear that far right neo fascist agitators were responsible. It was part of their attempt to sow chaos and mistrust among the Italian people.


They believed that weakening the public support for their government would lead to its collapse, although terrorist attacks had become sadly common by that point, the Piazza Fontana massacre gained the CIA's attention. That year. They stopped funding the Christian Democrats. Perhaps they believed Italians right wing had become too powerful, but it was too late to stop the violence.


The Piazza Fontana bombing marked the beginning of more than a decade of terrorism and social unrest. Eventually, this period became known as the years of lead. The attacks were a wake up call not just for Italy but for the world at large. Coming up, the neofascist threat gives rise to an even deadlier terrorist group. Before we get back to the show, I want to introduce a new Spotify original from cast called Incredible Feats. It's a short daily podcast hosted by comedian Dan Cumins every weekday.


Dan explores an account of physical strength, mental focus or bizarre behavior that's sure to leave at least some of you in pure disbelief. But there's no question these unbelievable stories are all true, like the 350 mile nonstop run of Dean Parnassus back in 2005 and Jose Salvador Alvarenga. Extraordinary tale of survival at sea. And let's not forget Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel. Incredible feats covers people and events that pushed boundaries, broke records and revealed new sources of all its offbeat entertainment that will send your mind reeling.


So don't miss out. Follow incredible feats free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And now back to the story in the wake of World War two, Italy was a country divided. Extremists from each side of the political spectrum began terrorism campaigns with the ultimate goal of toppling the government. On the one hand, a growing neo fascist movement sought to return Italy to an authoritarian state. On the other, young men and women suffering from terrible working conditions organized into radical communist groups.


As the years of lead began in 1968, a 22 year old named Mario Moretti moved from a small town of Porto Santiago to Milan seeking gainful employment. But Moretti was disappointed to find the city overcrowded. People lived in cramped apartments and spent the vast majority of their time working meaningless, unrewarding factory jobs. Moretti called Milan a horrible and extraordinary termite's nest.


Despite his education and middle class upbringing, Moretti could only find work at WCIT Siemens factory that made telephone equipment.


The young man quickly grew homesick. Like many of his neighbors, he felt nostalgic for his middle class childhood. Many Italians missed the bygone days, where most families had their own home, rather than sharing a small room with two or three others. Within a year of his arrival in Milan, Moretti organized a group of about 18 like minded young men and women together.


They rented a large apartment called Piazza Stupor, which by all accounts, this commune was a safe haven in the otherwise chaotic, claustrophobic city. United by their class and menial factory jobs. The residents took care of each other. They even established their own kindergarten.


The walls of the Piazza superrich served as an emotional and political outlet for its frustrated residents. They displayed posters, slogans and graffiti. In a 1993 interview, Moretti explained that within the apartment, there was no separation between political life and personal life.


The young residents believed it wasn't enough to just get by. The entire system was broken. Top to bottom, and it had to be completely dismantled. It was time for a communist uprising.


Moretti and other like minded radicals formed the Pragati Rosy, or Red Brigades. They define themselves by the love they held for their neighbors and their hatred for everything capitalist.


At first, they helped organize student protests and strikes, eventually they began to damage property such as cars and corporate offices. On March 3rd, 1972, the Red Brigades kidnapped Sitt Seaman's factory manager Hidalgo Macchiarini.


They took photographs of him with a gun to his face and a sign around his neck that read Macchiarini Hidalgo fascist manager of City Siemens tried by the Arbi. The proletarians have taken up arms for the bosses. It is the beginning of the end.


After a few minutes, the Red Brigades released Macchiarini unharmed. They left him with another sign. Red Brigades hit and run. No one will go unpunished. Strike one and educate 100 all power to the armed people.


The kidnapping, however brief, sent a message. The Red Brigades were sick and tired of the ruling political party. And shortly after Macchiarini is release, they kidnapped a political prosecutor named Mario Soucy.


Prior to this point, the Red Brigades had kidnapped industrialists and executives. Soci was their first government official, and unlike their previous victims, they didn't immediately release him.


Instead, the Red Brigades printed leaflets and called journalists taking responsibility for Sociales kidnapping. According to the New York Times, the Red Brigades announced that the assistant prosecutor was being held in a people's jail and would be tried by a revolutionary court for unspecified crimes. As rumors spread that Soucy would soon be executed, 4000 policemen and five helicopters scoured Genoa for any trace of him. They arrested at least 40 suspected members of the Red Brigade, but they didn't find Soucy.


After five weeks, the radicals finally demanded an exchange. Eight leftist prisoners for their hostage.


Surprisingly, the Italian government agreed to these terms on the condition that Soucy was released. First, the Red Brigades complied and 34 days after his kidnapping. They freed Soucy.


But the government didn't hold up their end of the bargain. They never released the eight prisoners. And the radicals wouldn't stand for that.


A few months later, on August 4th, 1974, a time bomb exploded on an Italian train, killing 12. This time, the neofascist terrorist group Ordinate. Nero claimed responsibility for the attack.


Ordinate Narrow didn't reveal their motives for the bombing. Perhaps it was a random attack meant to stoke fear. However, it could have been a more targeted attempt. Aldo Moro had been on the train the previous day.


By now, Mora was the leader of his party and prime minister of Italy, soon to be re-elected. It was clear that he'd attempt to unify the parties, but this only made him the enemy of radical terrorists on both sides.


The neofascist believe that Mora was weakening the Christian Democrats, therefore preventing an authoritarian. Meanwhile, the Red Brigades believe that he would cause such a takeover by weakening the communists.


But the opposition didn't stop. He began his second term as prime minister in 1974. Under his leadership, the Christian Democrats finally welcomed progressives and centrists into their cabinet, forming a coalition government. For the first time in years, leftists had a voice in the political arena. By allowing communists into his government, Morad damaged Italy's relationship with its Western allies. In 1975, he met with U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Ford threatened to discontinue American support to Italy if communists continued gaining power.


Kissinger added, We don't care if they sign on to NATO in blood. Having the communists in the government of Italy would be completely incompatible with continued membership in the alliance.


Kissinger and Ford had reason to be concerned about communists in the Italian government. In the 1976 election, the Christian Democrats won with a paltry 38 percent of the vote. The Communists trailed just four points behind at 34 percent.


Meanwhile, even as the Communist Party grew, the Red Brigades lost most of their momentum. Almost every leader was killed or imprisoned during Moreau's term. Mario Moretti was one of the few original members left.


In 1977, Moretti declared that the time had come kidnapping minor government officials, bombing innocent civilians. These were all half measures. Moretti decided it was time for something more drastic. He set his sights on the man responsible for decades of Christian Democrat rule, Eldo Morreau.


In 1978, Mora was no longer prime minister, but he was still a high ranking member of the Christian Democratic Cabinet. Although he hadn't brought peace to his nation, he was still determined to fulfill his dream of a united Italy. He proposed one more plan the compromise, storico or historic compromise.


Mauro was concerned that the new prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, might not carry on his tradition of keeping communists in his cabinet. Mauro urged his fellow Democrats to continue supporting the other party for the benefit of the nation out of respect for one of their longest serving prime ministers.


Mauro's party agreed to a vote on March 16th, 1978. Aldo Moro and five bodyguards left his apartment to cast a ballot for his historic compromise.


Mauro wasn't worried about danger. He thought the Red Brigades were all but finished. He had no idea they'd placed a target on his head.


Coming up, we'll explore the kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro and the uncertainty that followed.


And now back to the story in the 1970s.


Italy's government split between the right wing Christian Democrats and the leftist Italian Communist Party. In 1978, Morou proposed that the Christian Democrats should welcome communists into their cabinet. If his historic compromise succeeded, Communists would take an active, participatory role in the day to day operations of the Italian government.


Of course, this plan was extremely controversial. Mauro's Christian Democrats bristled at the thought of sharing power with their biggest opponents. Meanwhile, the growing Communist Party believe that they might genuinely run the nation within a few years without Mauro's help, even United States officials were uncomfortable with Morell's policy.


Infamous diplomat Henry Kissinger told Murrow that he'd paid dearly for his attempts to empower the communists and some terrorists, like the Red Brigades, were willing to kill him to stop the vote. But Murrow didn't bow to the pressure. He was resolved to see his legislation through.


On March 16th, Morreau attended a Catholic mass on the way to vote for his historic compromise. Mauro's bodyguards put their guns away before accompanying him into the church when the service ended and everyone climbed back into the car. They left their firearms in the trunk.


At approximately nine o'clock in the morning, Mauro and his bodyguards drove towards the parliament building. The car turned a corner and entered the narrow road in via Fani Rome.


Suddenly, terrorists leapt out of the cars in front of and behind Mauro's. They murdered his unarmed bodyguards and seized the former prime minister.


These terrorists extracted Moro with almost surgical precision, as if they'd been planning this attack for months, which was pretty shocking given the fact that Moreau changed his route to and from Parliament regularly. It almost seemed like someone had tipped off the kidnappers just as suspiciously.


The terrorists black market automatic weapons failed to injure Moro or any civilians, although they fired into the car from a few feet away. Eyewitnesses reported that Moro was completely unharmed in the attack. Some speculated that the kidnapping was a professional hit job masquerading as a radical operation.


At 10:00 that morning, word of Morel's capture reached parliament. The historic compromise vote was delayed and the government mobilized their state police force. Up to 10000 officers and soldiers searched Rome for any trace of Moro. Their efforts were fruitless.


Aldo Moro had seemingly vanished off the face of the earth.


The following day, Mario Moriarty's Red Brigades released a photograph of the 61 year old politician. They claimed responsibility for Maros kidnapping and released a statement which may have been written by Moretti himself.


The Red Brigades claimed they had kidnapped Moro and would try him in a people's court.


They'd said they'd arrested him for 30 years of Catholic Democrat rule over the country, all of Italy erupted in outrage.


The Communist Party alike denounced the extremist group. Major trade unions went on strike as a show of solidarity with Moro and as a way to disavow themselves from the Red Brigades. Even Pope Paul, the six, stepped in, pleading for his unconditional release.


But strangely, the Christian Democrats went ahead with a trial of recently arrested Red Brigades prisoners, even though they knew that it might escalate the situation.


To be fair, there wasn't much anyone could do for over a month. The Red Brigades didn't release any demands. Their communiques served only as propaganda. It seemed like their primary aim was to instill chaos and mistrust in the government.


Finally, on April 24th, 40 days after the kidnapping, the Red Brigades made an offer. Unsurprisingly, Mauro's mock trial had resulted in a guilty verdict, and he was sentenced to execution. But he didn't have to die, just like when they kidnapped Mario Soucy, the Red Brigades requested a prisoner exchange. According to them, 13 leftist prisoners were a fair trade for moral, but strangely, they didn't set a deadline. The day that the Red Brigades sent out their statement, a terrified Morreau wrote to his party to plead for his life.


He was afraid he could die at any minute, perhaps assuming that his politicians would refuse to negotiate with terrorists more bitterly. Asked that none of his former political friends be present at his funeral. He signed his letter Cordial Salutations. Aldo Moro, the prime minister.


Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti released a statement later that evening. He said the demands for a prisoner exchange were and remain unacceptable because they are incompatible with the freedom of all incompatible with respect due to the victims of terrorism and incompatible with the legal system of the republic, which was a weird stance for him to take four years prior.


In 1974, they'd parlayed for Mario Sophie's life, and clearly the Christian Democrats could have negotiated for Morel's release now if they wanted to, especially considering his importance to their party. Instead, they refused to cooperate with the Red Brigades.


On April 17th, U.S. President Jimmy Carter commended Italy for refusing to compromise for Moreau's release. He shared his support for Italy's fight against domestic terrorism and suggested that democracy was the real target of this attack.


The following day, April 18th, was one of the most confusing chapters of the entire ordeal. A communication from the Red Brigades appeared in a Roman newspaper bearing the news that Aldo Moro was dead.


The letter declared that Mauro's corpse was at the bottom of Lake de Kaisa, a small body of water about 100 miles north of Rome.


But after a day of exhaustive searching, Italian forces didn't find a body. In fact, they couldn't find evidence that anyone had been in the area in weeks.


That same day, a housewife called Emergency Services to report a serious leak in the apartment above hers. Water was dripping into her ceiling, and it seemed as though it might collapse.


Firefighters burst into the upstairs apartment.


To their surprise, they found uniforms and guns matching those used during Mauro's kidnapping completely by accident, officials had discovered a Red Brigades hideout.


As for the leak, it came from a shower that had been left on.


This was the first real break in the case, and it seemed to be a matter of dumb luck or such a meticulously organized group leaving their secret apartment with the shower running was staggeringly careless.


Throughout the day, a man and a woman were spotted heading towards the apartment on motorcycles. When they saw the police, they turned around. Investigators suspected them of being the apartments tenants, but the couple never got close enough for officials to arrest or identify them.


The following day, the Red Brigades published a photograph of Moreau, apparently alive and well, they accused the government of planting a misleading story, but they didn't specify what it might gain from faking Moro's death.


In turn, the police blamed the Red Brigades for spreading false information in order to waste their resources while they distracted. Up to 5000 officers at Lake de Kaisa the Red Brigades may have moved Morreau to a second location in the midst of the finger pointing, the news that morale was still alive energized the center left.


Several politicians argued for a deal with the Red Brigades about the Christian Democrats, refused to even consider it.


Today, it's rare that a government will negotiate with terrorists. But in Cold War era Europe, the Italian parliament's behavior was unusual. Other countries like Germany and France had exchanged prisoners for politicians.


And Aldo Moro wasn't just any politician. He had been one of Italy's longest serving prime ministers in a time of overwhelming upheaval. If his historic compromise had been a success, he may have even gotten a third term. Losing a leader with as much status as Moreau should have been unthinkable. And yet, for some reason, his own party seemed to have made up their minds to let him die.


Then on May 5th, 51 days after the kidnapping, the Red Brigades issued one of their final communiques, it read, We have nothing more to say to the Christian Democratic Party, its government and the accomplices supporting it.


We therefore conclude the battle started on March 16th by carrying out the sentence to which Aldo Moro has been condemned.


Two days later, on May 7th, Mauro's daughter Anna received an anonymous phone call. Someone told her to go to a secret location and pick up a letter.


That letter was Morel's final message to the outside world, addressed to his wife, Eleonora.


He knew that he was going to die soon and accepted his fate. But still, Mauro wrote that the Christian Democrats could have done something if they wanted to.


At one o'clock in the afternoon, an anonymous caller reached a secretary at Morel's office. He said in via Kitani, there is a red car with the body of Morreau.


Sure enough, police soon discovered a burgundy Renault four in the trunk Lei Eldo Mauro's corpse wearing the same suit as when he'd been kidnapped.


According to the autopsy, the Red Brigades had shot him eleven times. Symbolically, they'd parked the car halfway between the headquarters of the Christian Democratic and Communist Parties, representing Morel's lifelong dedication to compromise.


Due to their failure to act, the Christian Democrats immediately became the target of blame when they left their headquarters later that day, a crowd of mourners booed their vehicle.


As far as the Italian people were concerned, Morrows murder was the result of Christian Democrat incompetence at best. At worst, he was the victim of a political hit.


This leads us to conspiracy theory. Number one, the United States was responsible for Mauro's death. The CIA fought communist uprisings around the world, sometimes to the point of funding coups in other countries. Perhaps they decided more had to be stopped before he gave the Communist Party any more power.


Conspiracy theory number two, that the Christian Democratic Party allowed Morreau to die. Mauro's historic compromise would have severely limited their power.


His kidnapping was a convenient way to get him out of the picture.


Next time, we'll examine the shocking evidence that came to light about the Italian government and CIA in the years following Aldo Moro's assassination. The real culprit might not be who you expect, and the truth may be wilder than you ever imagined.


Thanks for tuning in to conspiracy theories, we'll be back Wednesday to determine who is really responsible for Eldo Moro's death.


You can find all episodes of conspiracy theories and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify, not only to Spotify, already have all of your favorite music, but now Spotify is making it easy for you to enjoy all of your favorite past originals, like conspiracy theories for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream conspiracy theories on Spotify. Just open the app and type conspiracy theories in the search bar.


Until then, remember, the truth isn't always the best story and the official story isn't always the truth.


Conspiracy Theories was created by Max Cutler and is a podcast studio's original. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Dick Schroder with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Travis Clark. This episode of Conspiracy Theories was written by Eric Stanky with writing assistance by Ali Wicker and stars Molly Brandenberg and Carter Roy.


Remember to follow incredible feats, four mind reeling stories of strength, focus and achievement, comedian and podcast Dan Cummins hosts bringing his signature humor to these extreme accounts. You might be glad you've never lived these stories, but you'll love hearing them follow incredible feats free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.