ROME – Police in Italy say they have issued 17 arrest warrants for Iraqi Kurds on terrorism-related charges in a Europe-wide blitz.
Carabinieri Gen. Giuseppe Governale told RAI state radio Thursday that the operation involved investigations in Britain, Norway, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. The ANSA news agency said the suspects are accused of international terrorism association. A news conference is being held later in the day with Italy’s top anti-terrorism officials
Norway’s security service PST, meanwhile, told Norwegian media that a jailed Iraqi-born cleric and two others have been arrested on suspicion of their involvement in a terror plot in Italy.
PST spokeswoman Siv Alsen said Najmaddin Faraj Ahmad, known as Mullah Krekar, and two others whom she didn’t name, face a court hearing Friday in Oslo, Norway, pending a possible deportation to Italy.
Last month, Ahmad was sentenced to 18 months in jail for praising the slaying of cartoonists at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions. He was also found guilty of urging others to kill a Kurdish immigrant in Norway in the same interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Earlier this year, Ahmad was freed after nearly three years’ imprisonment for making death threats. The 59-year-old Kurd, who came to Norway as a refugee in 1991, was convicted in 2005 for a similar offence.
Norway and the United States have accused Ahmad of financing a defunct Iraqi Sunni insurgent group called Ansar al-Islam. It reportedly merged with the Islamic State group last year.
Speaking from Valettta, Malta, where she took part in the European Union meeting on the migrant crisis, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said “if this means that Krekar leaves Norway, that’s fine.”