Weaponry including an 800kg anti-aircraft missile were found by Italian officials investigating a far-right politician in northern Italy. Some are asking why more is not being done to counter the threat.
Police officers in Italy uncovered a huge arms stash in the north of the country, which included an 800kg air-to-air missile and sophisticated assault weapons.
The haul was found in the home of Fabio Del Bergiolo, a member of the far-right Forza Nuova party, together with Nazi paraphernalia.
Del Bergiolo was arrested with three others, after an extensive surveillance operation and officers described the find as ‘unprecedented’.
According to officials, the arms were destined for Ukraine, where there is an ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels.
The incident is, however, not isolated. Far-right groups across Europe and the US have often been found with stocks of heavy and light weaponry, although media coverage of their discovery is often low key and attention on the incidents short-lived.
While the weapons seized in Italy were for use in Ukraine, in other cases, they were intended for attacks against politicians, as well as ethnic and religious minorities.
In February this year, a member of the US Coast Guard was arrested after he was discovered to have stockpiled weapons for an attack on officials in Washington.
In 2017, a British soldier was arrested for stockpiling weapons including pump-action shotguns, reportedly in preparation for a race-based conflict.
Such cases add to fears among minorities, such as Jews and Muslims, of the scale of violence the far-right is looking to unleash against them.
Most attacks against Jews and Muslims living in Western states so far have been by individuals with access to small arms that have often been legally accessible.
The terror attack against a synagogue in Pittsburgh, which killed 11 people, was carried out by a gunman carrying weapons that could be legally accessible. As was the terrorist attack on Muslim worshippers in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which killed 51 people.
These attacks, among others, demonstrate a clear intent by a committed minority to wreak havoc on minority communities. Seen against this backdrop, the smuggling of military-grade advanced weaponry represents a worrying new development.
Many on social media were concerned that the incident was not receiving the attention from the media and government that it needed.
“You know that Nazi stash INCLUDING A COMBAT-READY MISSILE found in Italy? Imagine how much more media attention there’d be if it was an Islamist stash,” wrote one user named Michael on Twitter.
Another wrote: “Police raids in Italy have unearthed a huge Far Right cache of weaponry, including an air missile. Media blackout because they're not Muslims...you know uhm terrorists. Just neonazis with heavy artillery from the military...nothing to see here.”