Italian police launch nationwide anti-terror sweep

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Italian police have launched a swoop on suspected Islamic extremists across Italy.

About 200 search warrants were issued, with about 175 being detained. It comes a day after the Minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu warned of the potential threat posed by extremists, saying that "terrorism is knocking on Italy's door".

After the 7 July London bombings, a statement was made by an Al Qaida affiliated group claiming responsibility for the London attacks. In it, Denmark and Italy were specifically warned of attacks "in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan."

In other news, a Brescia court jailed two North Africans accused of being part of a terror cell planning attacks in Italy. The court jailed another man on lesser charges. Six other North Africans, suspected of being in the same cell, are being tried in Cremona.

Of the two convicted, Iman Mohamed Rafik of Morocco was jailed for four years and eight months, while Kamel Hamroui received a sentence of three years and four months. They had been arrested in connection with the 16 May 2003 Al Qaida attacks on Casablanca, Morocco which killed 45 people, including 12 suicide bombers.