Asylum seeker arrested in Italy for allegedly planning Rome attack

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Rome, March 10 (IANS) A Somali asylum seeker was arrested in Italy on Wednesday on suspicion that he was planning an attack at the railway station of capital Rome, media reports said.

The 22-year-old asylum seeker, also reportedly a spiritual guide or an imam, was being hosted at a migrant reception facility near Campobasso, the capital of Molise region in central Italy, Xinhua reported.

“We have precise technical evidence about the possibility that he was organizing an attack in Rome,” Campobasso chief prosecutor Armando D’Alterio was quoted as saying by Rome-based la Repubblica newspaper.

Prosecutors said the Somali was planning to run away from the facility, named “Happy Family”, on Wednesday and then probably head for Rome.

“Let’s start with Italy, let’s go to Rome and let’s start with the railway station,” he said according to transcripts.

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Police investigated the young man for two months through phone tapping, hidden cameras and bugs, finding out that he was trying to convince the other migrants at the facility to carry out “jihad”.

The Somali was also filmed by police while he watched a number of videos showing terrorist attacks in what D’Alterio called an “intense and vehement proselytism” against the West.

The suspected terrorist reportedly praised last year’s attacks that killed 130 people in Paris as well as martyrdom, calling on the other migrants at the facility to “fight against the enemies of God.”

Prosecutors underlined, however, that many migrants at the facility collaborated with police after distancing themselves from the ideas promoted by their spiritual guide.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano hailed the arrest saying that Italy has activities of intelligence gathering and prevention that work, although it must be stressed that zero risk does not exist.

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A total of 259 extremists were arrested, 74,177 checked and 489 investigated last year, according to the 2015 report of the interior ministry, while several new arrests and investigations have been carried out in 2016 so far.

Italy in recent months has strengthened security measures in the wake of the attacks in Paris and following a warning from American intelligence services that iconic venues of the Mediterranean country could be the targets of terrorists.

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