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American Author Of Mafia, Terrorism Books Dies

Claire Sterling, a veteran journalist who specialized in Mafia and terrorism issues, died Saturday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 76.

Sterling, who died at a hospital in Arezzo, underwent an operation for colon cancer earlier this year, her family said.

She was the author of five books, including “Time of the Assassins,” which explored various conspiracy theories behind the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.

Her book “The Terror Network” was translated into 22 languages and used by the FBI in training agents.

Born in New York, Sterling came to Italy in 1946 as one of the few women foreign correspondents. She returned in 1951 after obtaining a master’s degree at Columbia University and wrote for many American publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and Reader’s Digest. She also was a correspondent for The Washington Post.

In 1986, an Italian court acquitted Sterling of charges that she revealed state secrets in a 1984 article she wrote for the Times about the investigation into the alleged plot to kill Pope John Paul II.

She was charged with revealing state secrets by quoting a report listing the recommendations to a judicial panel for an indictment in the case, and with refusing to say who gave her the report.

At the time of her death, Sterling was working on a film of her most recent book, “Thieves’ World,” about international organized crime connections.

She lived in a farmhouse in the central Italian village of Cortona.

She is survived by her husband, Thomas, and two children.

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