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Italian Police Announce Arrests in Joint Europe Anti-terror Probe

FILE - Picture taken on August 14, 2015 shows Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj also known as Mullah Krekar at court in Oslo. Italian police announced a swoop on a European jihadist network that was allegedly planning to try to spring its leader out of detention in Norway.

Italian police announced Thursday a series of arrests in various European countries as part of a joint operation against suspected members of a terrorist group.

Authorities said the raids targeted members of a Norway-based Iraqi Kurdish recruitment ring that radicalizes prospects via the Internet and sends them to fight in Iraq and Syria alongside the Islamic State group.

At least six of the group's members were arrested in Italy, four in Britain and three in Norway.

In addition, Italian, German, Finnish, Norwegian, Swiss and British authorities conducted searches of 26 premises seizing items and documents.

Leader of ring

Italian authorities said the ideological leader of the ring was Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad who is in prison in Norway.

Eurojust, the European Union judicial cooperation agency, said some suspects could not be located and are believed to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist organizations.

It said all are facing charges of international terrorism.

Ahmad founded Ansar al Islam and most recently Rawti Shax, which has a primary objective to "overthrow the current Iraqi Kurdish government and replace it with a caliphate governed by Sharia law."

Ahmad was jailed earlier this year after being found guilty of urging others to kill a Kurdish immigrant in Norway.