Suspects targeted Italian base with U.S. presence
Milan — Two terror suspects arrested Wednesday who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group had among their targets an Italian military base near the northern city of Brescia that has a U.S. military presence, prosecutors said.
Prosecutor Maurizo Romanelli emphasized that the suspects, identified as a Tunisian and a Pakistani, lacked military training and weaponry and had not moved into an operational phase before their arrest.
“There was never any situation of danger relative to the targets,” Romanelli said, which included the Ghedi air base, which hosts a U.S. munitions support group with just over 100 personnel, as well as Milan’s Duomo cathedral and Rome’s Colosseum.
Authorities were alerted to the activities in April when they began posting threats on Twitter, publishing pictures of their planned targets with the warning “We are in your streets.”
Officials said the two suspects were making plans to travel to territory held by IS for military training while at the same time gathering information from the Internet on how to participate in a holy war. That included downloading a manual called “How to Survive in the West,” a 2015 guide for mujahedeen that includes chapters on primitive weapons and bomb making, how to escape after carrying out an attack and how to avoid detection as an extremist.
Prosecutors said the two also were planning an attack against a food packaging company where one of the men was employed.
The suspects were arrested in Brescia on suspicion of terror association and subversion, and searches were being carried out throughout the Lombardy region. Both were long-time residents in Italy with families, and communicated with each other in Italian.