Milan (Italy), 28 April (IANS/AKI) Police arrested four people in northern Italy on Thursday on charges of seeking to join the IS including one who received orders to stage attacks in Italy, authorities said.
Investigators named the man as 27-year-old Abderrahim Moutaharrik, a 27-year-old Italian boxer of Moroccan origins, who lived in the province of Lecco, near Milan, and said targets included the Italian capital.
Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli said investigators intercepted a communication from within IS territory ordering attacks in Italy “with particular attention to the city of Rome” and the Catholic Jubilee of Mercy Holy Year currently under way at the Vatican.
“Rome was seen by IS as a symbolic place for Christian pilgrimage,” Romanelli said.
Moutaharrik was also planning to target the Israeli embassy in Rome and was allegedly in contact with an Albanian in Italy to obtain weapons for the attack, according to wiretapped phone conversations, investigators said.
He was arrested with his wife, 26-year-old Salma Bencharki, and the couple planned to take their children, aged 2 and 4, to IS territory, according to investigators.
Also arrested on international terrorism charges were 24-year-old Wafa Koraichi, who was detained in the northern town of Baveno, and Abderrrahmane Khachia, a 23-year-old Moroccan detained in Brunello near the northern city of Varese.
Prosecutors also issued arrest warrants for an Italian-Moroccan couple who left Italy to join IS last year with their three small children. They were named as Mohammed Koraichi and his Italian wife, Alice Brignoli, who converted to Islam.
Wafa is Mohammed Koraichi’s sister, police said.
Mohammed Koraichi had incited Moutaharrik to carry out attacks, according to prosecutors. The suspects communicated on WhatsApp and often sent pre-recorded audio clips to one another on the messaging service, Romanelli said.
The arrested suspects “had very bad intentions and were “urged to consider the possibility of carrying out attacks or violent acts also in Italy,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told the Canale5 TV channel.
“They had contacts in Syria,” Alfano later told Italy’s SkyNews24.