Bologna, 11 August (AKI) – Five suspected jihadist terrorists accused of sending fighters to Afghanistan and Iraq will on Tuesday be questioned by a judge in the northern Italian city of Bologna.
The five North Africans were arrested on Saturday in a police operation that broke up an alleged international terror cell.
Police say they arrested four African nationals from Tunisia and a Moroccan during raids in Bologna and the nearby towns of Imola and Faenza.
A sixth suspect is still at large. He avoided arrest because he had returned to his home country for personal reasons.
The five suspected terrorists were led by Tunisian Khalil Jarraya, 38, known as the ‘colonel’ due to his experience in fighting in the Bosnian civil war of 1992-1995.
He is alleged to have received Bosnian citizenship through his wife, a Bosnian national. His citizenship was later revoked.
“There is no altruism in going to paradise. Whoever is ready, must depart,” said Jarraya and another suspect, Hecmi Msaadi, during a wiretapped phone conversation in 2006.
“He (Chedli Bergaoui, another arrested suspect) wants a partner that goes with him. The money will be administered by Mohammed (Mohammed Chabchoud, another member) and Chedli, but we need a contact,” Jarraya told Msaadi.
“I do not like to talk much about this thing. As long as its a small number of people: me, you Mohammed and Chedli.”
Authorities also claim that money was sent to Bosnian groups with links to terror organisations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He allegedly recruited four others to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. He did not have a job and survived solely on donations, or the Islamic ‘Zakat’ (giving of alms to the poor and deprived) given to him by his Tunisian co-nationals.
Authorities should inquire as to whether anyone knew where their Zakat money was going.
According to authorities, the money was often used to finance jihadist activities.
Jarraya also persuaded his friends to ‘westernise’ their appearance as much as possible in order to go unnoticed, investigators claim.
Taking a page from the Al-Qaeda Playbook.
Another of the suspects, Hecmi Msaadi, 31, Tunisian national, resident of the northern Italian city of Imola, was ready to leave to Iraq to carry out attacks, claim Italian authorities.
Also, Chabchoub, 43, resident of Toscanella di Dozza, near Bologna, was considered the group’s second in command. He is a computer systems expert and had contacts with other alleged terrorists through the Internet, according to investigators.
Another alleged member, Chedli Ben Bergaoui, 34, was also arrested at the Bologna train station. He was getting ready to leave for Tunisia.
He used to invite friends over to his house to witness horrifying videos of homicides, executions or terror attacks. Videos that he let her four year old daughter watch, claim authorities.
Four of the five arrested were legally resident in Italy. They allegedly did not have any plans to carry out attacks in Italy or the European Union, but rather to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to authorities, the criminal investigation lasted three years and involved numerous wiretaps and searches of the suspects’ homes.
The group did not seem to be associated with any terrorist organisation, but investigators suspect they had ideological ties to Al-Qaeda.
They should look at where Al-Qaeda gets its ideology. But that’s all too unlikely.