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The European terrorist Union : Three terrorists arrrested in Italy "ready to strike" had been staying in France and Norway

Islamists create terror front : Muslim communities in Europe serve as mobile bases for terrorism
November 17, 2005


Naples, 17 Nov. (AKI) - Three Algerian men arrested in the Italian cities of Naples and Brescia on Tuesday night, suspected of being linked with an Algerian group connected to al-Qaeda, were due to appear before magistrates in Naples on Thursday. The men are suspected of being members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). Investigators say they were not just in Italy to provide logistical support such as false documents, but were actually "potential operatives" who were "ready to attack".

Naples named the three arrested suspects as Yamine Bouhrama, Khaled Serai and Mohamed Larbi. They were detained on suspicion of association with the aim of international terrorism, a charge introduced in Italy following the September 11, 2001 attacks in America.

Anti-terrorism Carabinieri officers arrested one man in Naples and the other two in Brescia following three years of surveillance of a GSPC cell by the Italian intelligence service SISMI. The three suspects are believed to have moved around between the cities of Naples, Rome, Brescia and Vicenza.

Bourhama is thought to have undergone training at terrorist camps in Chechnya and Georgia and may be capable of making explosive belts used by suicide bombers.

While under surveillance, Serai is believed to have been followed to Norway, where Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd who heads the radical Islamic militia group Ansar al-Islam, has lived since requesting political asylum in 1991, despite being wanted around the world. The US has accused Ansar al-Islam of offering sanctuary to al-Qaeda fighters fleeing Afghanistan, including the now leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat is the main armed Islamic organisation in Algeria and its aims are reported to include replacing the Algerian government with an Islamic state and attacking Western interests in the region. The GSPC has been on America's list of "terrorist groups" since 2002 and is said to have extensive contacts in Europe, the US and the Middle East, as well as being linked to the al-Qaeda terror network.


Italy holds three terror suspects
Italian police (archive) Italy tightened security following the London bombings
Three Algerians have been arrested in Italy on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

The men were detained in Naples and Brescia, and were "potentially operative", police said.

They had contacts with Algeria's Salafist movement, which is believed to have links to al-Qaeda, police added.

Italy has moved before against suspected Islamic extremists, arresting an imam and five other men in June who were suspected of Salafist connections.

The men were named as Yamine Bouhrama, Khaled Serai and Mohamed Larbi, reports Italian news agency Ansa, quoting Naples police.

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is the main armed Islamic organisation in Algeria.

It reportedly wants to topple the Algerian government, create an Islamic state and attack Western interests in the region.

Italy, which has a 3,000-strong military contingent in Iraq, has stepped up security following the 7 July London bombings.

It has conducted several emergency drills in major cities to test its response to a terrorist attack.


Norway link to terror suspects

Two of the three Islamist terrorism suspects arrested in Italy on Wednesday lived in Norway under false identities.
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Two of the three Algerians, Yamine Bouhrama and Khaled Serai, allegedly used forged identity papers acquired from France during their stay in Norway, according to Italian police.

One of the Islamists has reportedly trained in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

Italian media reported that the trio was suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Italy.

The men are also suspected of links with the Algeria-based Salafist Group for Call and Combat, according to an official from the Carabinieri paramilitary police in Naples. The Salafist movement has links to al-Qaida.

On Thursday morning Norway's Police Security Service (PST) was holding a meeting prior to making an official statement. The Italian Ministry of the Interior is also expected to make an announcement about the arrests on Thursday.


More hidden terrorists in Norway

The Algerians arrested in Italy are not the only potential terrorists in Norway, security forces said Thursday.

"We know that there are persons in Norway today that can be linked to the terrorist network abroad," Martin Bernsen, information adviser at the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) told

The PST will not disclose how many persons they are referring to, or how many different nationalities are involved.

Bernsen denied that the PST was not aware of the suspects arrested by Italian police on suspicion of terrorism, as Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Thursday.

"We knew about this case in advance. More than that we cannot say," Bernsen said.

Asked if the PST had cooperated with Italian police in this matter, Bernsen would only say that the PST has a close cooperation with the security services of other Nordic and some European nations.

Aftenposten's Norwegian reporter
Dag Yngve Dahle
Aftenposten English Web Desk
Jonathan Tisdall


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