To pakistanere i den italienske byen Brescia, far og sønn, ble lørdag arrestert for å ha opprettet en konto som gjorde det mulig for terroristene som angrep Mumbai ifjor å anvende fire linjer på internett. Slik kunne terroristene holde kontakten med hverandre under operasjonen.
Italian police on Saturday arrested a Pakistani father and son who allegedly spent just over $200 to set up a reliable and untraceable phone network that was used by the militants who carried out last year’s terror attacks in Mumbai, India.
The two were arrested in an early morning raid in Brescia, where they ran a money transfer agency, and it is was not immediately clear if they were aware of the purpose their funds had served, police in the northern Italian city said.
The day before the attacks began on Nov. 26 they allegedly used a stolen identity to send money to a U.S. company to pay for Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia.
The transfer was just $229 but gave the militants five lines over the Internet, which are difficult to trace and allowed them to keep in touch even during the rampage, Fonsi said.
The arrests on the eve of the first anniversary of the attacks underscored the long-standing concern of experts and officials over the ease with which small sums can be channeled through money transfer agencies to fund deadly terror plots.
Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Fonsi told The Associated Press by phone.
Ten militants, allegedly from Pakistan, killed 166 people in a three-day assault on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in India’s financial capital. One Italian was among the 19 foreigners killed.
The money from Brescia was transferred under the identity of another Pakistani who had never been to Italy and was not involved in the attacks, Fonsi said.
He lives in Spain and his identity was probably stolen when he used another money transfer agency somewhere in the world, Fonsi told a news conference.
Politiet er ikke sikre på om far og sønn visste at de bisto en terroroperasjon, men de fant jihadist-litteratur hjemme hos den ene.
Det ble funnet bevis for at overføringssystemene er blitt brukt til kriminelle formål. Stjålne identiteter blir hyppig brukt, blant annet slik at ulovlige innvandrere kan ta seg inn i Italia.
Transferring funds using the identity of other people was a common practice at the agency in Brescia, and the Italian probe broke up a ring of people who used the system for various criminal aims, Fonsi said.
Two more Pakistanis were arrested in Saturday’s raids for allegedly committing fraud, money laundering and other crimes through the masked transfers, but they were not linked to the Mumbai attacks. A fifth Pakistani man escaped arrest and was still being sought.
An additional 12 people were flagged to prosecutors for possible investigation but were not arrested, Fonsi said.
Just by using Javaid’s stolen identity, the suspects had transferred some euro400,000 ($590,000) between 2006 and 2008 to various countries. The network also used its contacts in Pakistan to help illegal immigrants enter Italy, Fonsi said.
Like other Western countries, Italy has shown concern over the use of money transfer agencies amid fears that funds to terror groups are being hidden in the flow of payments sent by immigrant workers back home.