Al Qaeda plotted pre-Sept 11 Italy attacks
ROME: A former Al Qaeda member has told police the militant network planned to bomb Milan’s main railway station before the 2001 attacks in the United States, Italy’s largest selling daily newspaper reported on Thursday.
Corriere della Sera, quoting documents by Milan investigators, said a Tunisian man told police he and others had carried out rehearsals by bringing travel bags filled with clothing to the station and leaving them in strategic spots.
The plan was that one day they would return with bags filled with explosives. The attacks were to have taken place sometime between 1997 and summer of 2001. It was not clear why they were not carried out.
The Tunisian, who was arrested in October 2001 and sentenced to 4-1/2 years for criminal association, told investigators attacks were also planned against Milan’s main police station and the city headquarters of the Carabinieri para-military police, Corriere della Sera reported.
The newspaper said he had since begun collaborating with investigators. Alfredo Mantovano, an undersecretary at the Interior Ministry, told reporters the leak that an Al Qaeda member was working with investigators was “very grave” and judicial authorities should start an investigation.
Elio Ramondini, a Milan magistrate investigating terrorism, was quoted by the Italian news agency Ansa as saying the man’s information was “credible” but that there was no evidence of a current threat to the city. Spanish trains were hit by bombs on March 11 that killed 190 people. Investigators are looking into possible Al Qaeda links to those attacks. —Reuters