ISN SECURITY WATCH (16/08/05) — The Italian police on Monday said they had arrested more than 100 suspected Muslim militants and planned to expel hundreds more in a massive “anti-terror” sweep made possible by new legislation granting broader powers to police.
More than 141 suspected militants have been arrested, and officials claim to have questioned 32,000 suspects since the introduction of new anti-terrorism legislation last month.
In late July, the Italian parliament passed legislation granting greater powers to police and making it easier to detain people on suspicion of membership in a militant group. Civil liberties groups have harshly criticized the legislation.
The move comes only weeks after one of the suspects in the failed 21 July attack on the London transport system, Hussain Osman, was detained in Rome. Osman is among 701 people Italy plans to expel or extradite for alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
The arrests also coincide with warnings from Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, who said that though there was no specific evidence of an impending attack, the risk was real and had forced Italy into an intense and prolonged state of alarm in the wake of the July bombings in London and Egypt.