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Interview with Marco Mancini

Marco Mancini, with a long-standing career in the Italian secret services, first in Sismi and later in Dis, has been acquitted in all the judicial proceedings brought against him. Today, Mancini is in bookstores with “Le regole del gioco. Dal terrorismo alle spie russe: come il controspionaggio offensivo ha protetto gli italiani” (Rizzoli). Il Sussidiario asked him for an opinion on two apparently distant news events, linked by the role of intelligence, decisive in successes but equally so in failures. Let’s see why.Dr. Mancini, is there a direct relationship between the action taken by the Russian comedians, namely the phone call to Giorgia Meloni, and Putin? In Russia, even the activities of comedians, especially if directed at foreign politicians, are subject to the scrutiny of Moscow’s intelligence and therefore Putin. I would not be surprised if Vovan and Lexus’s “penetration action” originated from Kremlin espionage. How was it successful? I believe the two comedians had reliable, accurate, and timely indications-information about the opportune moment to make the call to our Prime Minister. Was the operation also intended to destabilize our Government by showing its internal weaknesses? I don’t know the purpose of the call. I believe Russian intelligence wanted to show Europe how easily the filter around the President can be bypassed and to glean his considerations regarding the international scenario.Is the disinformation operation carried out by the Russian comedians proof that Russia is gradually but inexorably beginning to launch counteroffensives against our country at this level? For some time, Moscow’s secret services have targeted Italy as their privileged target. I remember some facts. The first. The commando of Russian secret agents who poisoned the former GRU agent Sergey Skripal, a collaborator of MI6, in London, passed several times, as reported by the press, through Milan airport. The second: three years ago, Walter Biot, an officer of the Italian navy, was arrested by the carabinieri of Ros. The military man, recruited in Italy by operational agents of Moscow’s intelligence, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in March of this year. Finally: Artem Uss was arrested in Milan last October 17. The Russian entrepreneur, son of an oligarch very close to Putin, escaped from his home in Basiglio in Milan due to the extradition request made by the USA, and reappeared in Moscow a few days later. It is possible that the escape was organized by Russian intelligence.What reforms should be made so that our services can be truly efficient and able to anticipate and construct plausible scenarios to allow political leadership to act with clarity and speed? As I write in my book, it is necessary to restore effective offensive counter-espionage action in areas that are of interest to Italian politics and NATO.Regarding the current war between Israel and Hamas, some questions arise. In your opinion, what were the causes that led to the commission of certainly serious evaluation errors by the Israeli security services? In the Middle East for several years, Israeli, American, and European services have greatly increased and enhanced artificial intelligence. In summary, cyber action is proposed as a “winning weapon” in situations of latent or open wars, to the detriment of traditional humint (human intelligence), that is, an offensive, active, sometimes invasive counter-espionage useful in preventing conflicts and/or quelling wars, massacres, and attacks from the outset. How does it happen? It is necessary to collect reliable information on the ground from equally reliable human sources, and inform the political authority, which is called to make strategic decisions. The lack of real humint action in Lebanon and Gaza caused the terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7 last year.Could Italian services play a role in the release of hostages? Italian intelligence has always played a primary role in the Middle East. I am not aware of the current ability of our intelligence to acquire information on Hamas’s military wing. In the absence of this, it is difficult to assume a decisive role in the hostage issue. How do you assess the latest developments on the hostage issue, developments that evidently presuppose a negotiation? It’s a good start.
Intervista tratta dal Sussidiario

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