Abderrazak Mahdjoub (AP)
“Authorities in Europe have shut down a network that recruited at least 200 Islamic militants to carry out attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq, Italian investigators told The Associated Press.” Thanks to LGF.
Just in case you got any idea that these were mainstream Muslims, the report assures you otherwise: “The volunteers were drawn from Muslim youths living on the fringes of society in Western Europe, with loose connections to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida and Ansar al-Islam, a militant group in northern Iraq. One recruit from Italy may have been involved in a rocket attack on the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad in October, when the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying there, officials told AP.
“There are also suspicions that some of the Muslim militants have been involved in suicide attacks in Iraq, although there was no hard evidence, one senior Italian official involved in the investigation told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity. . . .
“Italian investigators said they believe they shut down the recruiting network in Western Europe with a dozen recent arrests of the ringleader, his aides and others in Italy and Germany who played peripheral roles. Western European officials can’t rule out that the operation moved east, however, sending volunteers to the Middle East from Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, the senior Italian official told AP. . . .
“Europe has a large Muslim population, including some extremists, and is seen as a potential breeding ground for terrorism. The Italian probe is believed to be first to have traced the movements to the attacks against American targets since the United States invaded Iraq. August Hanning, head of Germany’s foreign spy agency, has cited evidence that Islamic extremists have left Britain, Bosnia and Germany to fight in Iraq. ‘We know of holy warriors who have gone to Iraq to fight the “infidels,”‘ Hanning told reporters last month. He refused to give details, but said the number was ‘relatively small.'”
Of one suspect, Abderrazak Mahdjoub, a German official said a curious thing: “If he said, ‘I’m going to Iraq to kill nonbelievers,’ we would have arrested him, but if he says he’s going to support his brothers, we can do nothing,” said Heino Vahldieck, head of the Hamburg office in charge of tracking extremists.” Do they think he was going to bring his brothers tea and blankets?
“Officials offered no hard evidence that Islamic recruiters have moved east, but there have been unsubstantiated reports of Islamic fighters training in Bosnia.
In October, Polish authorities arrested an Algerian terrorist suspect who was carrying a British passport when he was stopped at Krakow’s airport. Authorities were looking for possible contacts in Poland while seeking details from foreign intelligence services.”