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CRIME

Italy arrests man who planned attacks on ‘non-believers’

Italian police on Monday arrested a man they described as "extremely dangerous", who had reportedly already planned terrorist attacks in Italy and used social media to recruit potential accomplices.

Italy arrests man who planned attacks on 'non-believers'
File photo of Italian police cars: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The 29-year-old had promoted Islamist extremism online, calling in one message for “non-believers” to be “roasted on kebab skewers” and fed to dogs, according to a police report.

A judge for preliminary investigations described him as “an extremely dangerous subject” who posed a “very high risk of moving on to carrying out serious acts of violence”.

The man, who had lived in Italy since 2008, used 'walkie-talkie app' Zello to discuss his plans to carry out an attack in Italy.

According to a report from Rai News, he also shared material about combat techniques, how to throw police investigators off track, and behaviours to adopt in order to become “invisible” while living in a Western country.

In one chat group, he styled himself as the Isis group's spokesperson in Italy, using the nickname 'ibn dawala7', meaning 'son of the state', and swore allegiance to Isis chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. 

He also shared images of terror group Isis on Facebook, and used social media to praise recent terror attacks across Europe.

Turin police, assisted by Italy's Special Operations Group, arrested the man on Monday afternoon, following seven months of surveillance after an FBI tip-off.

According to investigators, he had been living with an Italian mother and son, who had come to think of him “almost as an adopted child”.

Italy has expelled a total of 31 people from the country over terror links so far this year. In total, the Interior Ministry has ordered the expulsion of 163 people for religious extremism since January 2015.

And at the end of March, the country's police force announced that they had busted a ring which had planned to blow up Venice's famous Rialto Bridge.

READ ALSO: How real is the threat from dormant Isis cells in Italy?

CRIME

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.

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