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Italy Calls for European-Wide Policy to Combat Terrorism

Giuseppe Pisanu
Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu is calling for a strong, well-financed European-wide security policy to combat terrorism. In an address to parliament he also proposed a new package of anti-terrorism measures.

Mr. Pisanu told parliament that the bomb attacks in London reminded Italians that they are a possible target of Islamic terrorism.

The interior minister said, "Today, after the attacks in Madrid and London, Islamic terrorism is knocking on Italy's door."

The minister said that at present Italian police forces are protecting 13,000 sensitive sites across the country. He said that security has been strengthened for the transport sector, including at railway stations and ports after they appeared vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

But the interior minister told parliament that the Italian government has no intention of introducing special anti-terrorism laws as this would greatly disrupt the normal life of citizens and play directly into the hands of terrorists.

He says we cannot restrict our citizens' freedom in order to fight the enemies of that freedom. If we did that, we would be handing them a real victory.

Mr. Pisanu proposed a series of measures that can be adopted to help the authorities act more efficiently in their prevention and investigation efforts. He said the police could be allowed to detain suspect terrorists for 24 hours instead of 12, to give them more time to identify them.

The interior minister also called for greater surveillance of the Internet and of cell phones, including a directory of users. He said another idea was to grant residence permits to illegal immigrants who helped uncover terrorist activity.

Mr. Pisanu said that for the time being all responsibility for organizing security would be concentrated on his ministry to ensure a single effective strategy. But he called for a joint Europe-wide security policy to combat terrorist activities.

He described the nature of this terrorism as "an international political movement that coldly utilizes religious fanaticism and the weapon of indiscriminate killing to alter democratic processes in the countries it attacks."

But Mr. Pisanu made clear the threat posed by Islamic terrorists should not be confused with Islamic religion, culture and civilization. This is not a clash of civilizations, he said, and it requires a common response. He added that Italy is promoting initiatives with moderate Islamic associations and institutions that consider terrorism a common enemy.

He says with moderate Islam, with established and operating Islamic lay governments we can find accords of vital importance.

He added that Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini would be meeting with the ambassadors of all Islamic governments present in Italy over the next few days.

Mr. Pisanu will be in Brussels for an extraordinary meeting Wednesday of EU interior ministers that will address that latest terrorism emergency.