A Europe-wide sweep disrupted an Islamic cell that was recruiting potential suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, Italian police said Tuesday, announcing the arrests of 20 terror suspects.The rest of the story is here.
Police said the suspects, mostly Tunisians, were arrested across Europe as part of the sweep against a cell based in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.
Executing the arrest warrants, police said they found al-Qaida manuals for making explosives, detonation devices and poisons, and instructions on guerrilla techniques.
"The investigation has revealed recruitment, training and passage to aspiring terrorists to Iraq and Afghanistan," lead investigator Gen. Giampaolo Ganzer, of Italy's paramilitary Carabinieri police, told a news conference.
The suspects were wanted on charges ranging from association with the aim of committing international terrorism to falsifying documents to aid illegal immigrants.
"Once more, the central role of Milan and Lombardy in the panorama of Islamic militants has been confirmed," the Carabinieri said in a statement.
The group's members had been indoctrinated in militancy in mosques since at least 1998, according to police transcripts, and appeared to take serious precautions.
In one intercepted call, a suspected cell member said that "things are being done with extreme calm, haste does not bring the desired results."
Eleven were arrested in the northern Italian cities of Milan, Reggio Emilia, Imperia and Bergamo. Nine others were arrested on warrants issued in France, Britain and Portugal, Italian news agencies reported.
Authorities in Britain, France and Portugal confirmed arrests.
The Lombardy cell had ties with a group in neighboring Emilia Romagna whose aim is to establish an Islamic state extending from Morocco to China, Italian investigators said. Intercepted phone calls made clear the aim of sending jihadist fighters to Iraq via Syria, including specific instructions on shaving off beards before departure to give the impression of making a "peaceful trip."
Message to Democrats: What you’ve just read is all about what most of your party leaders call “George Bush’s war on terror.”
But those of you who read the AP’s report with an intelligent mind free of fervid partisanship will, I think, agree that what you read concerns the Muslim terrorists’ global war on civilization, with America the target the terrorists most want to destroy because it's the most powerful defender of civilization.
I hope you’ll also consider whether President Bush isn't in fact right when he says many of those fighting our troops in Iraq have been recruited by and are loyal to al-Qaeda.
Yes, I know most of your fellow Democrats in Congress and at party media organizations such as NPR, the New York Betray US and the McClatchy Company ridicule the President for claiming there’s al-Qaeda involvement in Iraq. Some of them even accuse the President of being an outright liar for saying al-Qaeda has sent and continues to send terrorists to Iraq.
But I think those Dems in Congress and the media are letting their partisanship trump the facts. The AP story is one more instance confirming the President and our military in Iraq are right when they say there’s an al-Qaeda presence there.
Message to voters: Today’s AP story is one more reminder of why the “’war on terror’ is a bumper sticker” and “waterboarding is torture” crowd is not to be trusted with America’s national security.