Afghan Terrorists Planned to Attack London
On Wednesday, May 10, 2016, Italian police detained two Afghan men in the Southern Italian city of Bari, for having connections to the Islamic State (IS), and facilitating illegal Migration. The two men are suspected of planning to carry out terrorist attacks on select targets in London.
The first man, Hakim Nasiri is suspected of being linked to international terrorism, and was living in a refugee center in Bari, while awaiting his asylum request to live in Italy. The other suspect, Gulistan Ahmadzai, lived in a Southern Italian town near Foggia, had already obtained refugee status, and is suspected of organizing illegal immigration schemes.
Authorities say Ahmadzai was planning on moving the French port city of Calais and use it as a base of operations to smuggle terrorists into the U.K.
The Telegraph reported that the two Afghan men are part of a five-man terror cell that sent at least one member to London last December to scout potential targets. The other two suspects are Qari Khesta Mir Ahmadzai and Surgul Amhadzai, both Afghans wanted by the police and believed to still be in Afghanistan.
Authorities believe Surgul Amhadzai was in London December 9, 2015 scouting targets for the terror cell.
The fifth member is Pakistani national named Zulifqar Amjad who was arrested in Milan, but lived in Bari, his role within the group is not yet known.
Italian police believe the men were given travel documents that allowed them to travel throughout the Schengen Zone EU states, but also made it to the U.K., which is not part of the Schengen Zone. UK officials have indicated they do not know how Surgul Amhadzai got into the country or how long he stayed.
Italian authorities had briefly detained four of the suspects including Naisir, Qari, and Surgul in December after they were caught video taping a shopping center in Bari. They also found cell phone pictures of Bari airport and local shopping malls. A few days later 15 Qari and Surgul fled Italy for Istanbul and later entered Kabul.
Italian authorities found one of the suspects cell phones and discovered a list of prices for smuggling migrants into Europe, and information about smuggling activity in Italy and Calais, France. Investigators found that Greece and Turkey were the initial starting points for the groups smuggling operations. Cell phone pictures revealed likely targets for the terrorists which included a hotel in West Indian Quay, the Sunborn Yacht Club, the South way Footbridge to Canary Wharf, The Premier Hotel Inn, and an Ibis hotel in Victoria Dock Road all targets were in London.
There were also pictures of an Italian airport and sea port along with pictures of the Roman coliseum, along with pictures of potential targets in France.
The U.K.’s Home Office Secretary Theresa May has ordered that a reorganization of Britain’s coastal forces to protect its borders as it is suspected the IS terrorists may have tried to gain entry into the U.K. through Calais, which runs ferries daily between France and the U.K.
The Home Office came under major scrutiny last month when a whistle blower within the Home Office admitted that Border Forces lacked the necessary powers in preventing terrorism and also lacked critical resources to protect the country’s borders as migrants attempted to sail from France to Kent and Sussex.
May noted that there are now four cutters patrolling the channels and waterways of the U.K., but critics claim the patrol is insufficient for the task.
The arrest of the two terror suspects once again solidifies a link between human trafficking and migrant smuggling and terrorist operations, and is likely to provide added fuel to the argument of those who propose reinitiating border controls between EU states
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