View Full Version : Italy hunts suspected terrorists

29 Nov 03,, 05:40
Italy hunts suspected terrorists

Friday, November 28, 2003 Posted: 4:04 PM EST (2104 GMT)

NAPLES, Italy (CNN) -- Milan prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for five North Africans suspected of recruiting people to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq and elsewhere.

Hours later on Friday, police in Hamburg, Germany, said they had arrested an Algerian on one of the Italian warrants.

The moves come the day after the arrest of a 24-year-old man in Gloucester, western England, and the discovery of small amounts of explosives. He is being questioned about suspected international terrorism links. (Full Story)

CNN's Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci said the arrests were "significant" because it had been thought that Italy had been used only for logistical purposes, such as a base for providing false documents or shelter.

But the authorities are now investigating the possibility that Italy is being used to recruit and train terrorists for Iraq and elsewhere.

Security analyst Crispin Black, of the Risk Advisory Group, told CNN the arrests signaled a "good day for the security forces, and we need good days."

He added that there seemed to be a theme in the Italian and UK arrests -- the suspects all appear to have links to extreme radical centers of preaching.

Following Friday's arrest in Hamburg of Abdelrrazak Mahdjoub, three of the five suspects wanted by Italian police are now in custody.

The 30-year-old Algerian is believed to be one of the ringleaders of the recruiting organization and a top al Qaeda operative in Italy.

Mahdjoub had been arrested earlier this year in Germany for his alleged involvement in an attack in Spain but was later released.

The other two suspects already in custody are Bouyahia Maher Ben Abdelaziz, alias Abu Dahr Al Tunisi, born in Tunis in 1970 and Housni Jamal, alias Jamal Al Maghrebi, born in Morocco in 1973. Both are in custody in Milan.

Two of the five -- a male and female -- are at large, officials said. They are Bentiwaa Farida Ben Bechir, a woman born in Tunis in 1961 but who has been living in the northern Italian city of Padua. Investigators believe she may have recently returned to Tunisia.

The other one is Muhamad Majid, alias Mullah Foua, born in Baghdad in 1970, who Italian investigators believe is in Syria.

A sixth person authorities are interested in speaking to has been identified as Toumi Ali Ben Sassi, alias Ali the Tunisian, who has been in custody since November 25. He was arrested for allegedly providing logistical support and papers to the other five, Italian news reports said.

The alleged terrorists have not yet been formally charged.

Investigators are likely to charge them with "subversive association aimed at international terrorism," which means that under anti-terrorism laws adopted in Italy after the September 11 attacks in the U.S., the accused could spend months in jail before being charged.

Sources also said investigations during the arrests and subsequent searches found more than 200,000 euros or ($240,000) in cash.

The arrests were ordered by Milan Prosecutor Stefano Dambruoso, who has been leading investigations into alleged terror cells suspected of links with al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's network.

Italy has put dozens of suspected terrorist behind bars over the past two years, following a series of probes mainly in the northern part of the country.


29 Nov 03,, 06:40

Good luck to the Italians.

Do they have an anti terrorist group?

10 Dec 03,, 23:58
They have. Back in the '80s they've suffered quite a bit from communist terrorist groups like the Brigate Rosse ("Red Brigade").

18 Jan 04,, 06:50
Ah, the Red Brigade.

I can't fathom how these groups have political support at all given the fact that communism has just about been thoroughly discredited and taking into account the fall of the Soviet Union.

18 Jan 04,, 13:06
Or what about the Rote Armee Fraction, in the BRD (former West-Germany) ?

18 Jan 04,, 19:00
I know a guy who served in the Air Force in Germany back in the 70's and early 80's, he told me they were always on the back of their mind.

20 Jan 04,, 01:24
Originally posted by PiggyWiggy

Good luck to the Italians.

Do they have an anti terrorist group?
Its called the NOCS, which is the Italian State Police "SWAT Team", there are a few others as well im sure .. the Carabineri probably has one