Italian Officials Arrest Islamic State Suspects Plotting To Hit Vatican, Israeli Embassy In Rome.(WSJ).
Italian police issued six arrest warrants Thursday for people suspected of plotting to join the Islamic State group. Three of the suspects were plotting attacks on the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome, Reuters reported.
According to authorities, investigators intercepted communication from Islamic State members in the Middle East in April ordering Abderrahim Moutaharrik, a Moroccan-born Italian, to carry out attacks in Italy, a sign that the group wants aspiring foreign fighters to stay in the West rather than travel to Syria and Iraq.
“These were messages with alarming, even devastating content,” prosecutor Franco Roberti said. There were no signs that a specific attack had been planned, he said.
The man was told to pay particular attention to Rome because Christians would be flocking to the city for the Holy Year, another prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli said. Pope Francis initiated the Jubilee “year of mercy” in December.
Mr. Moutaharrik, a Moroccan boxer who has Italian citizenship, was detained together with his partner, identified as Salma Bencharki.
“I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican, God willing,” one man said, according to a transcript of a wire-tapped conversation released by Italian officials. Another recording revealed the same man said he had contacted an Albanian man in order to get a gun so he could target the Israeli embassy in Rome.Jihadist network ready to strike #Rome, #Vatican nabbedhttps://t.co/wR0leS3krx pic.twitter.com/5UDdPqnQBI— TRACterrorism.org (@TRACterrorism) April 29, 2016
Officials across Europe have stepped up security in the wake of major terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, took responsibility for both attacks. The November attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and hundreds injured while attacks in Brussels in March left 32 people dead and hundreds injured.
American officials said Monday that ISIS was operating cells throughout Europe in countries including Germany, Britain and Italy.
“That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies,” said James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, when asked about the terror group’s activity across Europe, the New York Times reported.
Italian officials said four of the six suspects were arrested Thursday while the location of a Moroccan man and his Italian wife was still unknown. Officials said the couple had left Italy last year to travel to either Iraq or Syria where ISIS controls territory.
“The new aspect here is that we are not talking about a generic indication [of an attack] but a specific person being appointed to act on Italian soil,” said Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli. Read the full story here.
Plots constantly being interdicted - many of which don't see light due2secrecy, never mind the1's that get coverage. https://t.co/MzSa6hCDsk— Mubin Shaikh (@MrMubinShaikh) April 30, 2016