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More anti-terror arrests in Italy

Frattini: People living legally in Italy "were preparing for attacks abroad"  

MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- Milan police have arrested three people and are seeking a fourth in connection with a crackdown on an al Qaeda cell in Italy.

Those arrested or being sought are charged with "association with deliquent groups."

Italian authorities said they were part of a logistical cell that provided weapons, explosives, and false documents to al Qaeda terrorists.

Those arrested were named as Abdel Halim Hased Remadna, 35, from Algeria who was already in a Milan jail on other charges; Yassine Chekkouri, 35, from Morocco; and Nabil Benattia, 35, from Tunisia. Being sought was Abdel Kader Mahmoud Es Sayed, 39, from Egypt.

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Police said satellite telephone calls had been traced between between Remadna and Abu Jaffa, thought to be number three in the organisation of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

In addition, police searched two Islamic cultural centres in the city -- Viale Jenner and Via Quaranta.

Police said a number of searches were conducted in other northern Italian cities -- Venice, Bergamo, Aosta, Vercelli, and Pavia. Italian police said those searched has turned up false documents and other records which connected the suspects to al Qaeda.

In April and October, Italian authorities made a series of arrests, cracking what they said was a cell that supported al Qaeda operatives in a number of countries including Spain, Germany and France.

After an unprecedented security crackdown in the wake of September 11 they concluded that Italy was been a support base for terrorist operations -- providing false documents, money and other logistics.

The pope: No specific threat but seen as an obvious target  

Last week Italian intelligence services chief Franco Frattini told CNN they had discovered a terrorist network under construction for years.

"We have been discovering, for example, people who have been living in a legal way in Italy. In some cases they have Italian citizenship through marriage. They were not doing anything strange in Italy, but they were preparing for attacks abroad," Frattini said.

The Italian security chief said contrary to newspaper reports, there has been no specific threat to the Vatican, but the faithful now pass through metal detectors on their way to Mass because Pope John Paul II and his basilica are obvious targets.

Other specific threats included a suspected plot to blow up a stretch of the Italian highway system, he said.


• Belgian terror cell investigated
November 28, 2001
• Italy crackdown finds terror network
November 20, 2001
• Spain arrests 11 terror suspects
November 13, 2001
• Investigation: Worries over civil rights
October 22, 2001
• Terror web unravelling in Europe
September 29, 2001
• Paris attack suspects seized
September 25, 2001
• Europe-wide links to attacks probed
September 14, 2001

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