ROME (AP) — Italian police say they have found indirect links between Islamic militants and a Somali-run migrant trafficking and money transfer ring that was busted in overnight raids in southern Italy.
Police said the leader of the Bari-based ring had been in telephone contact with a Somali man arrested in Italy in July on suspicion of having helped two Islamic State foreign fighters enter Italy via Malta.
A police statement said other members of the ring frequented websites linked to Al-Shabab, Somalia’s homegrown Islamic extremist rebels linked to al-Qaida.
The dozen Somalis targeted in the raids Wednesday are accused of transporting migrants to northern Europe, including with false documents, and running a money transfer network.
Bari prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe says the “hawala” transfer network “is the same used to finance international terrorism.”