Four Kosovars arrested in Venice over plot to attack Rialto Bridge

Mar 31, 2017, 00:34
Four Kosovars arrested in Venice over plot to attack Rialto Bridge

It was when police heard one of the men enthuse on the phone about last week's attack in London by Khalid Masood, in which five people died, that they chose to intervene.

Prosecutor Adelchi d'Ippolito revealed an excerpt from a wiretapped conversation, where the suspects discussed the bombing of the centuries-old Rialto Bridge over Venice's Grand Canal: "With all the unbelievers there are in Venice, you put a bomb under the Rialto and you go straight to heaven".

Three alleged Islamic State extremists have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Rialto Bridge in Venice. A minor was also detained to prevent him from interfering in the investigation, police said.

Police had been monitoring the group since a year ago.

The suspects were detained in an overnight sweep carried out after it was established that they had undergone "religious radicalization", according to a police statement. The police operation began when one of the men returned from a trip to Syria, La Stampa reported.

While the suspects didn't yet have the components necessary for a bomb, authorities said at least one had had been teaching himself how to build one.

"There was a lot of talk about unconditional support to ISIS (the Islamic State group)". It wasn't just theory and dogma, ' d'Ippolito said of the wiretaps.

Raids were conducted at 12 locations in the historic center of the city, which is a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world.

Central terror prevention staff, Carabinieri sniffer-dog units, bomb squads and forensics police also took part in the operation.

However, he did not confirm a report in La Reppublica newspaper that one of the men was overhead suggesting an attack on the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal - a major global tourist draw.

The men, who all had regular residency permits to live in Italy, were named as Fisnik Bekaj, 24, Dake Haziraj, 25 and Arjan Babaj, 27.

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