Rudy Giuliani says mafia put $800,000 bounty on his head – but ex-New York mayor admits Islamist terrorists scare him more than the mob

69-year-old was a successful anti-mafia lawyer before entering politics

John Hall
Thursday 28 November 2013 14:10

The Sicilian mafia offered to kill Rudy Giuliani for $800,000, the former Mayor of New York has revealed.

In a light-hearted exchange with Oprah Winfrey, the 69-year-old – who before entering politics was a hugely successful anti-mafia lawyer – joked that although the initial bounty was close to a million, a second mafiosi later placed a significantly lower $400,000 on his head towards the end of his two-term mayoralty.

The conversation took place as part of Winfrey’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ show, during which Giuliani admitted he had made many enemies among mafiosi thanks to his high-profile involvement in the mid-80s Mafia Commission Trial.

That trial saw eight of America’s most powerful mobsters sent to prison – including Genovese crime family front boss Anthony ‘Fat Tony Salerno’, and the bosses of the Lucchese and Colombo families - Anthony ‘Tony Ducks’ Corallo and Carmine ‘The Snake’ Persico respectively.

Speaking of that trial, Giuliani said: “I don't think anybody prosecuted more mafia members than I did. Certainly, no one sent them to prison for the lengthy periods of time than I did”.

Giuliani during the Mafia Commission Trial in 1986

The Sicilian mafia apparently offered to kill Giuliani in retaliation for the sentences - providing their American couterparts stump up a fee of $800,000.

Joking about the later, significantly reduced bounty on his head, which was allegedly placed around the millennium by a well-known gangster serving 100 years in prison, Giuliani laughed: “I kind of felt bad that I went down in value - I started at 800, I went down to 400”.

Giuliani pretends to be Vito Corleone during a Godfather-themed skit at the end of his New York mayoralty

Despite the threat of contract killers, Giuliani said that it isn’t the mafia that keeps him awake at night: his real concern is Islamic extremism.

Giuliani was Mayor of New York at the time of the September 11 attacks, rising to international prominence thanks to high-profile appearances from the scene and emotive speeches and interviews in the aftermath.

Comparing the threat from terrorists compared to those of the mob, Giuliani said: “When we start talking about Islamic extremist terrorism - that worries me more, because they are suicidal”.

He added: “Part of why I didn't worry about the Mafia was because there was a certain rationality to their kind of violence. This other kind of violence is completely irrational violence.”

Giuliani went on to say he was proud of the way New York coped in the aftermath of the September 11 attack., but admitted that for a long time after he “jumped” every time he heard a siren.

Giuliani during the September 11 attacks

Using New York’s recent tourism records as an example of the way visitors to the city are no longer excessively anxious about the threat of terrorism, Giuliani said: “Fifty million [visited New York last year], which shows you that even though we were attacked, even though there was threats of attacks, people know how to process it correctly.”

He added: “They realize it's a small, small risk in comparison to the wonderful things you can do here.”

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