Two men were arrested by Italian police yesterday on suspicion of supporting Islamic State (IS) and plotting to carry out terror attacks. The arrests of the Tunisian and Pakistani men based in Brescia in northern Italy were the latest in a series forming part of a wider investigation by the anti-terror squad, DIGOS (Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali), which began in April.
The Local reports the arrested terror suspects set up a Twitter account on which they posted threatening messages showing handwritten signs produced by the pair in Italian, French and Arabic. The signs were displayed in front of historic Italian monuments, including Rome’s Colosseum and the Duomo in Milan.
“We are in your streets, we are everywhere. We identify our targets while we wait for zero hour”, said one message.
Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli told a press conference they also set their sights on several other targets, in particular the Ghedi Air Base near where they come from in Brescia which is used by the US military, “but also other possible targets including law enforcement forces”.
The two men had also downloaded an internet manual called “How to Survive in the West” which includes information on bomb-making, disguising identities online and carrying out terror attacks. Officials said they were planning to travel to IS-held territory in Syria to receive military training.
Nevertheless, Romanelli said the targets in Milan and Rome “were never in danger” because the pair had not set their plans in motion before being arrested and charged with terror association and subversion.
“This morning’s arrests show our system to prevent terrorist attacks works,” said Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, “it confirms that Internet controls allow us to take preventative action with great efficiency.”
Nigel Farage and several Italian politicians have previously warned of the “real and genuine threat” of IS fighters entering Europe via Italy posing as migrants. The latest arrests suggest Italy has taken those warnings to heart.