From The Guardian, and Nicolei:
An al-Qaida operative told the Italian police that his unit had been poised to carry out mass murder at the main Milan railway terminus, possibly before the September 11 attacks, the newspaper Corriere della Sera reported yesterday.
The evidence of the Tunisian terrorist, who has been codenamed “Ahmed”, includes the claim that in Italy alone there were several “sleeper” cells, formed well before the US attacks and still intact.
Ahmed is also said to have revealed that all al-Qaida’s operational units could count on suicide bombers.
The Interior ministry called for an inquiry into how the information had been leaked to a newspaper.
The attack on the Milan central station was one of at least six operations outlined by the informer, who is apparently serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence for criminal conspiracy. Ahmed reportedly told investigators that he had been involved in preparing attacks on a Nato base at Mondragone, near Naples, and on the main police station and the city’s carabinieri headquarters.
In statements he apparently explained that al-Qaida operatives were well aware of an operation in the US before 9/11. In the weeks leading up to the attacks several had themselves arrested for petty offences to avoid suspicion.
Corriere della Sera said Ahmed was a former cab driver arrested in October 2001 along with other members of a unit headed by Essid Sami Ben Khemais, a Tunisian.
The informer said that as part of his reconnaissance of the Nato base he had worked for months in a nearby potato field. To get a look inside the carabinieri’s station in Milan, he had staged a traffic dispute and got himself escorted to it.
And at the rail terminus he and another al-Qaida terrorist had left bulky, oddly shaped bags to see if they aroused suspicion. He said 15 bombs were to have been used, four more than were probably planted in Madrid.