The yuppie-style Messina
Denaro sealed his reputation by murdering a rival
Trapani boss and strangling his pregnant girlfriend.
The police found many pizzini written by Messina
Denaro to Provenzano. Signed with the name
"Alessio," all notes featured deferential
respect for the old boss. "Alessio" Messina
Denaro always promised to be at Provenzano's disposal.
"Your friends are my friendsâ€¦I trust your honesty
and capacity, as I did earlier with T.T.R,"
Messina Denaro wrote to Provenzano.
The rather badly coded name refers to the
initials of Toto Riina, the Sicilian Mafia's No. 1 Don before Provenzano.
Messina Denaro even reported that "T.T.R. wrote
me" reaasuring that "it is all OK."
"These pizzini are revealing very disquieting
aspects ... Riina is supposed to be in strict
isolation. Certainly, he should not be able to
send notes to his mobster
companions," Ernesto Oliva, co-author of the
forthcoming book "Provenzano: the Accountant
of Cosa Nostra," told Discovery News.
Investigators are working hard on the newly
found number-filled pizzini. The arrest in 2002
of Antonio Giuffré, one of Provenzano's right-hand
men then turned informer, helped the police to decode many pizzini.
Once the cryptograms were decoded, several
members of Provenzano's close circle were
identified, a step which ultimately led to his arrest.
The Caesar Code
At least one coded note, written in January 2001
by Angelo Provenzano, had a strong resemblance to
what's known as Caesar cipher, an encryption
scheme used by Julius Caesar to protect important military messages.
While the classic Caesar cipher moves everything
three letters later (A becomes D, B becomes E,
etc.), the "Provenzano code" assigned a number to
each letter by simply increasing by 3 the value
given to the 21 letters of the Italian alphabet listed in order.
So, A becomes 4 (1+3), B becomes 5 (2+3), C becomes 6 (3+3), etc.
But after the arrest of Giuffré, Provenzano could
not trust the old code anymore and turned to new cryptography keys.
"It might be that the new key is in Provenzano's
Bible, filled with notes and underscorings. It
appears that certain words in the Bible were
associated with numbers in the pizzini," Oliva said.
Oliva, who also co-authored
www.bernardoprovenzano.net, the most exhaustive
Web site on the old boss, is cautious about
Messina Denaro being Provenzano's successor.
"We will have to see what happens next. If there
isn't any Mafia war, it might be true that
Provenzano himself named Messina Denaro as his
successor. But he is from Trapani, and this might
have ruled him out. Since the 1960s, all the
bosses — Luciano Liggio, Riina and Provenzano —
came from Corleone," Oliva said.
If the new Godfather is Messina Denaro, it is
likely that he will encode his notes with more sophisticated tools.
While Provenzano ran top Mafia businesses on an
obsolete Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter, with
pizzini slowly delivered by a chain of
messengers, Messina Denaro, a keen Nintendo game
player, wrote his pizzini using a computer.
"One of the clues that helped the police to
identify these Alessio note as by Messina Denaro
was the perfect use of the Italian grammar. Only
Messina Denaro could have written them," Oliva said.