Three arrested, two more on the run.
A 24-year-old Pakistani national, Zulfiqar Amjad, was arrested on Tuesday 10 May in Milan’s Porta Romana district on charges of international terrorism and of favouring clandestine immigration.
The previous evening and this morning, police in Bari in Italy’s deep south had arrested two Afghans, Hakim Nasiri, 23, and Gulistan Ahmadzai, 29, on the same charges. Warrants were issued for two further plotters, now believed to have returned to Afghanistan before the dragnet closed on them.
The suspects were living in Bari area in sheltered housing after one of them had applied for asylum, and two others had already been granted protection. They had attracted the attention of the Italian police a year ago when they were seen filming locations which were clearly of no tourist interest – a shopping mall, the airside area (after check-in and security) of Bari airport – and had been under observation since.
Their frequent flights to and from London had also aroused interest, and helped uncover their role in a group operating between Bari, Hungary and “the Jungle” in Calais organising clandestine immigration.
Once they were arrested, their mobile phones proved to be filled with “scores” of pictures and films of possible attack sites in Bari, Rome and London, as well as prayers and indoctrination material calling for terrorist actions and links to “dark” websites known only to illegal activists. They had also saved photos of themselves posing with automatic weapons.
A briefing by investigators stated that they were accused of forming “a network of logistical support for an international subversive organisation of religious origin, actively connected with the international terrorist organisation known as ISIS, with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and with al-Qaeda.”