Three Algerians were arrested Friday in southern Italy on international terrorism charges, accused of providing logistical support to extremist groups in Algeria, police and the Interior Ministry said. One of the three was already in prison on other charges, and the other two were picked up in Salerno, near Naples, and the province of Catanzaro, said an official with the carabinieri paramilitary police. The official said he wasn't authorized to be identified by name in the media.
Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said in a statement the three were arrested on international terrorism charges as part of a broad investigation that involved other countries "against the terrorist threat hanging over Italy and Europe." The police official said the three were believed to be members of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, an Algerian group which is said to have links to al-Qaida. He said they allegedly provided logistical support, including fake documents, to its members.
He said the arrests were linked to a series of raids in recent weeks on apartments and shops in Naples and Milan believed to be linked to Algerians suspected of providing logistical support to the GSPC, which is the most structured group among Algerian Islamic insurgents battling the North African state since 1992 in a bid to topple the government. In recent years, the group has turned its sights on jihad, or holy war, beyond Algerian borders, but the police official said Friday's arrests concerned suspects accused of supporting the group inside Algeria itself.
Italy has arrested dozens of North Africans and others accused of international terrorism after the charge was introduced in Italy following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. However, prosecutors have complained that the charge is worded in a way that makes it difficult to win convictions, and several cases have ended in acquittals or convictions on lesser charges, reports the AP. N.U.