Italy, Belgium Arrest 17 Terror Suspects

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    Italy, Belgium Arrest 17 Terror Suspects

    Tue Jun 8, 6:46 PM ET Add Top Stories - AP to My Yahoo!

    By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer

    ROME - In a coordinated strike across Europe, police arrested 17 suspected Islamic militants, including an alleged mastermind of the Madrid train bombings who authorities say was planning further attacks, officials said Tuesday.

    Fifteen people, mostly Palestinian, Jordanian, Moroccan and Egyptian nationals, were arrested in raids on about 10 locations in the Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp, said Daniel Bernard, Belgian federal prosecutor.

    Italian police picked up two suspects, including a 33-year-old Egyptian described as the ringleader who allegedly helped plan the March 11 attacks in Madrid that killed 191 people.

    The suspect, identified as Rabei Osman Ahmed — also known as "Mohammed the Egyptian" — was arrested Monday night near his apartment in the northern outskirts of Milan in an operation that involved dozens of police.

    The operation "confirms the welding that took place between holy war groups of various geographical origins," said Carlo De Stefano of the Milan police. These groups "are united not only by a single project of attack on the West and on the symbols representing it, but also by the actual sharing of resources and operational experiences."

    Osman Ahmed was arrested on a warrant issued Monday by Spanish Judge Juan del Olmo, the magistrate leading the investigation into the March 11 bombings. Spain will request his extradition on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

    Also arrested in Milan was Osman Ahmed's landlord and roommate, identified as 21-year old Palestinian Yahia Payumi. They are both accused of association for international terrorism, a charge introduced in Italy after the Sept. 11 attacks....
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