The EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit issued arrest warrants for 17 people in a suspected ISIS terror cell and 13 have been arrested. Italian Carabinieri General Guisseppe Governale released the information on behalf of European law enforcement. The arrests took place in a sweep of several European countries, according to Gen. Governale. He reported that the group were helping to plot attacks on several European diplomats.
The synchronized arrests of the ISIS terror cell members were made in cooperation by the nations of Italy, the UK, Norway and Finland. Joint investigation and cooperation led to the arrests, stated to be the most important European police operation in 20 years.
Recruiting new jihadists was goal of ISIS terror cell
The sting that captured the terrorist group was led by Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar.
Ahmad is reported to be a founder of the dismantled terrorist group Ansar al Islam that had al Queda ties. He has been living in exile in Norway. He started running Rawti Shax from Norway to recruit, radicalize and train followers to be sent to Iraq to fight and overthrow the government. Ahmad was released from prison in Norway earlier in the year, but was just sentenced again for praising the killing of the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo and urging the death of a Kurdish immigrant. The group is said to have been planning attacks with the goal of having Ahmed released.
The terrorists were planning to conduct attacks on Norwegian and UK diplomats in the Middle East, according to the Italian police report. The group is said to be working with ISIS to help them capture the Kurdish part of Iraq, according to Eurojust, the judicial cooperation arm of the European Union. Rawti Shax has been giving support by recruiting foreign terrorists who would go to Syria and Iraq, and eventually be trained for future Kurdish area attacks in Iraq.
The goal of Rawti Shax has been to install a radical Islamic caliphate in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Arrests made after Internet surveillance
The terrorist group arrests were managed by special prosecutors in Rome, along with cooperation with their counterparts in other countries. They had the group under Internet surveillance and were able to detect an alleged Rawti Shax cell based in Italy back in 2010, that was dedicated to recruiting militants, according to Italian authorities. Then, they used that information to aid in the current arrests of seven people in Italy, four in the UK, three in Norway and one person in Finland. Authorities believe that the four not taken into custody out of the 17 warrants are already in Iraq or elsewhere.
Additionally, places were searched in Germany and Switzerland, but no other members were located and authorities believe they could have gone to Syria and Iraq to join other jihadist groups.