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Italian Police Make Arrests in Terrorism Sweep

Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj, also known as Mullah Krekar, at court in Oslo. Italian police announced a swoop on a European jihadist network that was allegedly planning to try to spring its leader out of detention in Norway.
Italian Police Announce Arrests in European Terrorism Investigation
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Police in Europe won a battle in the war on terrorism Thursday with the announcement of arrests in a joint operation against suspected militants.

Italy’s anti-terrorism chief, Giuseppe Governale, called the arrests “the most important international police operation in Europe in 20 years.”

Officials say the operation targeted members of a Norway-based, Iraqi Kurdish terrorist group. They said the group used the Internet to reach new members, and sent them to fight in Iraq and Syria with the Islamic State group.

Police accused the group of plotting attacks against Norwegian and British diplomats in the Middle East.

At least 13 people were arrested in Italy, Britain and Norway. In addition, police seized documents and other objects in searches of more than 20 premises. The searches were the work of officials from Italy, Germany, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Britain.

Italian officials identified Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad as the ideological leader of the group. They said he is in prison in Norway. He is also called Mullah Krekar.

He was jailed earlier this year after being found guilty of urging others to kill a Kurdish immigrant in Norway. His Norwegian lawyer told reporters, “suspicions against Krekar have largely been based on false accusations.

Norway and the United States have accused him of financing the group Ansar a-Islam.

Separately, Turkey’s state-operated news agency says police detained 11 people Thursday in Istanbul. They were captured in a new security operation against suspected Islamic State militants.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Jim Dresbach wrote this story for Learning English. It was based on reports from, the Associated Press and MSNBC. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ideological – adj. having to do with the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party

premises – n. a building and the area of land that it is on