Italian police have detained four Kosovans, one of whom is a minor, on suspicion of plotting to blow up the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice. A major landmark, the Rialto bridge was built in the late 16th century and spans the Grand Canal.
About 300 Kosovo Albanians have joined IS since 2011, which is the highest number in per capita terms across Europe. Last year, the number dropped after the government tackled recruitment by radical imams and launched an education campaign.
The arrests of the alleged jihadists followed 12 raids, including 10 in Venice’s historic centre, one in Mestre, the mainland suburb of Venice, and one in Treviso, according to a police statement. All the men were residing in Italy legally, and two worked as waiters in Venice.
Police chief Franco Gabrielli descried the counterterrorism operation as a major achievement, and said the people involved in the affair were “inherently dangerous and their intentions very, very negative”.
“This case confirms that the terrorist threat exists and is very present throughout the national territory but also that there are security devices that do their job,” he added.
Prosecutor Adelchi D’Ippolito said, “There was great adherence to the ideology of Isis and support for recent attacks, above all the one in London, to which they gave great appreciation.”
During the raids, the police found a number of pistols, as well as evidence of downloading information with instructions on how to make bombs and carry out knife attacks.
The alleged jihadist cell has been kept under surveillance for months. The suspects talked a lot about unconditional support for IS and, according to the prosecutor, were approaching a moment of "planning and projects".
Last November, a 24-year-old Kosovan was expelled from Italy over alleged links to terrorism. Over the period November 4-16, the Kosovo police arrested 19 people suspected of planning terror attacks in Kosovo and against the Israeli football representation and their fans expected to participate in the World Cup qualifier Albania-Israel. In December, two brothers from Kosovo were arrested in Germany as they were suspected of planning an attack on a shopping centre in the city of Oberhausen.
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