Accessibility links

Breaking News

28 Pakistanis Charged with Terrorist Offenses in Italy - 2003-01-31

28 Pakistanis have been charged with terrorist offenses after being arrested in Italy this week. This is the second terror related sweep in Italy in two weeks. Police believe the men were part of an al-Qaida terrorist cell, but Pakistani officials dispute that.

Police say the men were found with explosives, plus fuses and various types of electronic detonators. They also had detailed maps of the southern Italian port city of Naples, showing sensitive targets.

News reports say the possible targets included a NATO base, the U.S. consulate in Naples and a U.S. naval base. The men were arrested Thursday in Naples during a routine check on suspected illegal immigrants.

Police say they found hundreds of forged identity documents and cell phones, and an index of international telephone contacts and addresses. Police say there were also notes written in Arabic, which are now being translated, as well as religious texts and photos police said were of so-called "Jihad martyrs."

The men have been charged with association with international terrorism and illegal possession of explosive material.

Pakistan's ambassador to Italy says the men are not terrorists, but rather were involved with an Italian organized crime syndicate.

The Italian authorities have cracked down on suspected terrorist groups since the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.

Last week, police in northern Italy arrested five Moroccans suspected of terrorist activity, after finding explosives and maps of NATO installations. Italian news reports Friday indicate there is also an investigation into a suspected al-Qaida cell in the northern Italian city of Turin.

Since the attacks in the United States, police in Italy have arrested more than 100 people on suspicion of links to terror organizations. Most have been released for lack of evidence, but 17 have been convicted.