Rome

Moroccan held in Brescia for 'planning terror attacks'

'Planned attacks on train station, army barracks'

Moroccan held in Brescia for 'planning terror attacks'

(updates previous). Rome, June 12 - Police in Brescia near Milan on Wednesday arrested the alleged head of the Italian branch of a Belgium-based Islamist organisation on suspicion of planning attacks in the northern Italian city. Anas El Abboubi, alias 'Anas Abdu Shakur', born in Morocco in 1992 and living with his family near Brescia since 1999, had allegedly scouted out two targets on Google Maps, Brescia's train station and its main military barracks, police said. Police said they intercepted an email to foreign members of the organisation applauding the recent fatal attack on a British soldier in London and a copycat stabbing of a French soldier in Paris. "There can be no peace with us," he allegedly said. The 20-year-old Moroccan reportedly told police he had "hated the West" since being "taunted as a member of the Taliban after the September 11 attacks in America" and recently vowed to "die for Allah". El Abboubi was also becoming increasingly interested in Syrian Islamist fighting against the regime there and had recruited others to join him in supporting their cause, travelling to Syria if necessary. As well as Brescia, he was planning other attacks in other parts of Italy as well as France, police said. He and the recruits were "united by a common hatred of Jews and a desire to fight against Western countries," a police spokesman said. "Via the Web, the Moroccan passed on translations of jihadist literature and acquired instructions on using explosives, weapons and fighting techniques," he said. Police seized papers written by El Abboubi "including verses in which he sings the praises of jihad against Italy and France and leaves a sort of spiritual testament containing a collection of his translations about the legitimacy of holy war," the spokesman said. During the six months he had been under surveillance before his arrest, police said, he also reportedly made no secret of his admiration for a compatriot, Mohamed Jarmoune, arrested in March 2012 and sentenced last month to five years and four months in jail on terrorism charges. El Abboubi recently set up the Italian chapter of the Web-based Sharia4 organisation, a movement started in Belgium in 2010 and inspired by the jihadist preacher Omar Bakri, police said. Sharia4 has been banned in several European countries. El Abboubi was arrested at his home in the small town of Vobarno outside Brescia on suspicion of training terrorists and inciting religious and racist hatred, police said. Another two people are under investigation on suspicion of committing the same crimes. Police had been watching El Abboubi around the clock, and picked him up while he was on his way to take his school-leaving certificate. Anti-terrorism police also searched the homes of four Moroccans near Brescia, 100 km east of Milan, and around Pordenone, a city in northeastern Italy.

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