Italy expels three Kosovan terror suspects

Indo Asian News Service

Turin, April 3 (IANS/AKI) Italy on Monday deported three Kosvars accused of belonging to the Islamic State jihadist group and of plotting attacks on Venice's iconic Rialto Bridge and churches in St Mark's Square.

The three suspects were expelled aboard a flight from Caselle airport outside the northwest Italian city of Turin, where they had been held in a deportation centre following their arrest on Thursday.

Italian authorities deported the Kosovars after cancelling their Italian residence permits, the Interior Ministry said.

Arjan Babaj, 25, Fisnik Bekaj, also 25, and Dke Haziraj, 26, were arrested in raids on two apartments in Venice's historic centre near St Mark's Square.

Police raided a total of twelve apartments in Venice, in the nearby city of Mestre and the neighbouring province of Treviso during Thursday's operation and also detained a fourth Kosovan suspect who is a minor.

The Kosovars and "other suspects who were subsequently arrested" viewed "numerous" jihadist propaganda videos showing ways of carrying out suicide attacks and shared the videos online with other extremists, said the Italian Interior Ministry.

The arrests followed a "complex" probe in which the anti-terror squad, Digos, monitored the alleged jihadist cell members, who were involved in religious radicalisation before their arrests and were planning to travel to the Middle East to wage Jihad there, according to investigators.

Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti praised Thursday's operation as "an important achievement in the prevention of terrorism".

A total of 30 suspected Islamic extremists have now been deported from Italy this year and 162 since January 2015, according to the interior ministry.

Italy has been on high alert since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015 and has further ratcheted up security since the March 22 terrorist attack in London.