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Old 04-16-2003, 09:01 PM   #1
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Italy Points to Al-Qaeda in Syria

Italian police uncover al-Qaeda link in Syria
April 17 2003


[B[Syria has functioned as a hub for al-Qaeda operatives who moved Islamic extremists and money from Italy to north-eastern Iraq, where the recruits fought alongside the recently defeated Ansar al Islam terrorist group, according to an Italian investigation.[/B]

The investigation, which began last year, could intensify the growing debate about Syria's alleged ties to terrorism.

Two weeks ago, Italian police arrested seven alleged al-Qaeda operatives. They were charged with sending about 40 extremists through Syria to terrorist bases operated jointly by al-Qaeda and Ansar al Islam, whose stronghold in north-eastern Iraq was recently overrun by Kurdish and US troops.

Transcripts of wiretapped conversations between the arrested suspects and others paint a detailed picture of overseers in Syria co-ordinating the movement of recruits and money between Europe and Iraq, according to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. An Italian judicial order dated March 31 said the conversations showed that a Kurdish spiritual leader, identified as Mullah Fuad, was the respected "gatekeeper in Syria for volunteers intent on reaching Iraq".

Mullah Fuad and others based near Damascus gave orders to the suspects in Italy, according to authorities.


Italian investigators say they have no evidence that the Syrian Government was aware of the network or protected it. Still, the activity of the alleged terrorist network raises questions because Damascus has aggressive security services that would likely be aware of extremists operating in the country.

"We are not interested in the politics of it," an Italian law enforcement official said. "The investigation shows that there were several leaders in Syria - that's the bottom line."

Syria has helped the US-led crackdown on al-Qaeda that began after the September 11 attacks. In an unusual act of co-operation with US authorities, Syrian agents in late 2001 arrested and interrogated a Syrian-German suspect accused of recruiting Mohamed Atta and other September 11 hijackers. Yet Syria also has long been accused of aiding and protecting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.

As rumblings of a coming US war on Iraq increased last year, Italian police detected increased phone contact between suspects in Italy and the Ansar al Islam terrorist training camps in Iraq.

The conversations soon indicated the route to the terrorist stronghold in Kurdistan led through Syria.

Italian investigators are still trying to identify Mullah Fuad and the other suspects in Syria.

In addition to the mullah, the Italians are keenly interested in a North African suspect in Syria named Abderrazak. He figured in wiretapped conversations with two of the arrested suspects, Cabdullah Ciise, a Somali who allegedly has ties to the attacks on Israeli tourists in Kenya last November, and Mohamed Daki, an accused Moroccan document forger who is an admitted associate of members of the Hamburg cell that plotted the September 11 attacks. Abderrazak could also have ties to the Hamburg cell, Italian investigators say.


Los Angeles Times
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:05 PM   #2
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War and FYM are dead!
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:07 PM   #3
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You post too many articles for us to respond to, dreadsox! Although I do enjoy reading them when I have time to.
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:08 PM   #4
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Old 04-18-2003, 12:00 PM   #5
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Yeah, Dread, it's all your fault. You post too many good articles. JOKE! JOKE!
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