European ‘jihadist network’ crackdown: Four Britons among 15 arrested over bid to ‘strike diplomats’

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From The Telegraph

Police in six European countries arrested at least 15 suspected members of an Islamist militant group that was planning attacks in northern Europe and the Middle East, Italian authorities said on Thursday. They said the militants planned to strike Norwegian and British diplomats in the Middle East and politicians in Norway but gave no further information about the potential targets or the time frame for any attacks.

Four men were arrested in Britain as part of the international investigation into an alleged Islamist terror network. They were detained by officers from the North East and West Midlands counter terrorism units on Thursday morning in the operation led by Italian authorities. The men were arrested on European Arrest Warrants and are now set to face extradition proceedings.

The early-morning raids targeted the Rawti Shax group, which police said was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim group dedicated to overthrowing the government of Iraq’s Kurdistan region and replacing it with rule by sharia (Islamic law).

Italy’s national Carabinieri police led the investigation, with security forces in Italy, Britain, Norway, Finland, Germany and Switzerland taking part in Thursday’s swoop. All of them face international terrorism charges, the Italy’s Carabinieri police said in a statement.

Among those detained was Mullah Krekar, the one-time leader of the Ansar al-Islam militant group. He was served the arrest warrant in a prison in Norway where he was already serving an 18-month term for making death threats against a Kurdish man and encouraging others to commit criminal acts in a TV interview.

Krekar went to Norway as a refugee in 1991 and had earlier been deemed a threat to national security. However, Norwegian authorities did not expel him to Iraq because authorities there could not guarantee he would not be executed. 

Italian investigators say Rawti Shax, which means “The New Course”, was rooted in Europe, with cells communicating via the Internet and providing logistical and financial support to send fighters to Syria and Iraq. Their hope was that these fighters would be trained for future conflict in Iraq’s Kurdistan. “During the course of our investigation we saw some fighters leave for Syria and die in the conflict,” said Rome prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo.

The group also went by the name Didi Nwe (Towards the Mountain), the Italian police statement said. 

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