Milan: Police in Italy on Thursday arrested two Egyptians and an Algerian with alleged links to the Islamic State jihadist group accused of conspiring to commit international terrorism.
An arrest warrant was issued for a fourth suspect who is at large, police said.
The three suspects were arrested in Finale Ligure near Savona in Liguria, in Cassano d’Adda near Milan and in Turin in the northwest Piedmont region at the request of anti-terrorism prosecutors in Genoa, police said.
The Egyptians are brothers, one of whom is a pizza chef and the other is unemployed, while the Algerian is an asylum-seeker, police said.
Thursday’s operation targeted an alleged Egyptian terrorist cell with bases in the northern Lombardy and the northwest Liguria region which spread jihadist propaganda via Internet and sent militants from North Africa to Syria to fight for IS, according to police.
The alleged cell used pseudonyms and false accounts on Facebook and other social media sites to spread jihadist material, some of which they obtained directly from IS’s propaganda arm, investigators said.
The suspects swore loyalty to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the Facebook page of another suspect in the probe, investigators said.
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano welcomed the arrests and praised the lengthy anti-terrorism probe that preceded Thursday’s operation.
“This is a very important investigative success,” Alfano said. “The prevention of terrorism is working and is continuing to get major results.”
A total of 55 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested and deported this year, Alfano said.