(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - An Italo-Moroccan accused of belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) Islamist terror group was arrested in Turin on Wednesday and police said he had been planning to use trucks for attacks and seeking 'lone wolves' to carry them out. Elmahdi Halili, 23, the author of the first ISIS propaganda message in Italian, was captured at the end of a probe by anti-terrorism police in the northwestern Italian city.
At the moment of his arrest, Halili reportedly shouted "Tyrants! I'm going to prison with my head held high".
Turin Police Chief Francesco Messina said "he is a very motivated individual, with no intention of repenting. We had to act immediately to eliminate this threat: Halili could have carried out attacks. He had moved from self-indoctrination to trying to contact others, 'lone wolves', who could carry out terrorist actions, and he was weighing how to use knives and how to prepare trucks for attacks," In some cases he met these lone wolves, Messina said, who were Italians converted to Islam, Ghanaians and Moroccans, often already known to police for other crimes.
The head of the DIGOS special security police in Turin, Carlo Ambra, who coordinated the operation, said "it was time to intervene. We couldn't afford to let him identify a target to strike. There was a need to act immediately". Ambra said the operation was called 'Love and Hate' because "Halili said that Islam is a balance between these two feelings: love for believers and hate for unbelievers".
I don't know if these further arrests are of the 'lone wolves' that Halili was trying to form into a pack, or other jihadists.
Italian police say they have arrested five people connected to Anis Amri, the Tunisian who carried out the 2016 Berlin Christmas market truck attack and was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.
In a tweet Thursday, police said one of the five was believed to have procured the fake Italian identity papers that allowed Amri, a failed asylum-seeker, to move around Europe. The arrests were the latest in a marked uptick in recent police operations targeting suspected extremists.