A police operation against alleged migrant smugglers in Trieste, March 5, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/US/POLIZIA DI STATO
A police operation against alleged migrant smugglers in Trieste, March 5, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/US/POLIZIA DI STATO

Italian police has dismantled an organization that worked to bring migrants from Kurdish areas to Europe, including through the procurement of fake ID documents. Among those arrested was an Iraqi national linked to a Syrian responsible for a terrorist attack in London in September 2017.

Italian police on Friday (March 5) dismantled an organization that worked to bring migrants from Kurdish areas to Europe, including through the procurement of fake ID documents in exchange for large sums of money.

Five people were arrested after warrants were issued, one of which was extended to all of Europe.

Two Iraqi nationals of Kurdish ethnicity were also put under house arrest. One had links with a Syrian national behind a terrorist attack in London on September 15, 2017.

Operation in northern Italy

The police conducted several searches, including one involving an Italian national. About ten people put under investigation have not been found and thus the search has been extended abroad as well.

'Operation Hub', under prosecutor Massimo De Bortoli from the anti-mafia unit of Italy's northeastern city Trieste, involved numerous cities in northern Italy.

The investigation began with looking into an Iraqi national residing in Trieste, M.F.S., 30, who had been in contact with Ahmed H., aka Aziz Aljaf: a 22-year-old Syrian national behind a terrorist attack on September 15, 2017 at London's Parson Green metro station in which a homemade bomb was blown up. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The investigation reportedly did not find that those arrested and/or under investigation committed crimes linked to international terrorism.

Probe started from Trieste cell

The Italian authorities say that the investigation found the existence of a Trieste cell set up by an Iraqi national who, despite the fact that he moved to the Netherlands and then Germany while the inquiry was underway, continued supervising it. Several accomplices were reportedly part of the cell.

The cross-border association aided and abetted illegal immigration to Europe -- especially Germany, France, and northern Europe -- for numerous undocumented migrants mainly of Kurdish ethnicity from Syria and Iraq who transited through or stopped in Trieste, held by investigators to be a hub for the 'Balkan route.

The migrants paid a large sum of money for the trip and fake documents.

The investigation also found that some members of the Trieste cell, with economic help from the transnational organization, had "opened" logistics bases with the same aim in mind in other places in northern Italy, including the Bolzano province.

The person believed to possibly be the head of the organization -- the Iraqi national M.F.S. -- was arrested in Germany after an international warrant was issued by the Trieste judiciary. The probe is ongoing, the police noted.

 

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