Italian Police Foil Attack on Vatican, Israeli Embassy
Italian police arrested four jihadists on Thursday who planned to attack the Vatican and the Israeli Embassy during the “holy year” between December 2015, and November 2016. Arrest warrants have been issued for two others whom the Milan prosecutor says are believed to be in Syria.
The jihadists: a couple, a 23 year old male, and a woman – all Moroccans- were arrested after wiretaps recorded the conversations that revealed the plot.
Abderrahim Moutahrrick, a Moroccan, is said to have received a Whatsapp message from ISIS territory that said, “Dear brother Abderrahim, I send you… the bomb poem… listen to the sheik and strike.”
[“The sheik” refers to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.]
According to information released by the prosecutor, Moutahrrick told one of the other suspects, also a Moroccan, Abderrahmane Khachia, 23, that “I want to hit Israel in Rome.”
Khachia was arrested in the town of Varese and Moutahrrick was arrested in Lecco.
Moutahrrick was also accused of contacting an Albanian to buy a gun for the attacks.
“I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican God willing.”
“The new aspect here is that we are not talking about a generic indication (of an attack) but a specific person being appointed to act on Italian soil…Rome attracts attention because it is a destination for Christian pilgrims.” Maurizio Romanelli, Milan Prosecutor
The direct call for a suspect to do a terrorist act on Italian soil is new. Italy has been spared the kind of terrorist activity seen in France and Belgium. It appears now that the lull is over.
Italian police are credited with acting quickly enough to prevent the plot from moving forward.