Italian police have arrested 141 people in raids at Islamic gathering places across the country, but the country remains at an “elevated risk” for a terrorist attack, the government said Monday.
Police sweeps recently, including raids across Italy on Friday and Saturday, brought the arrests of 141 people, the Interior Ministry said. Two of those arrests were for possession of false documents under a new law stepping up anti-terrorism crackdowns after the London transit attacks last month.
The ministry said others were arrested for suspected robberies or thefts and other “common crimes” but that none of the suspects had immediately been linked to terrorism.
Targeted in the raids were “Islamic gathering places: call centers, Internet Points, Islamic butcher shops and money transfer business,” the ministry statement said.
Authorities ordered 701 people to leave the country because they were clandestine immigrants or otherwise found to be lacking proper papers, the ministry said.
Italian news reports last week said that several Muslims had been expelled in a crackdown on suspected extremists.
Security officials meet
Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu summoned the heads of border and paramilitary police, the civil protection department, national fire department, port authorities and military intelligence services to a meeting on the Aug. 15 national summer holiday.
The ministry said Monday’s assessments, combined with earlier intelligence, “confirm that an elevated risk for a terrorist attack in our country remains.” It did not elaborate.
Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said the locks to the entrances of 49 subway stations had been changed as a precaution, but emphasized that the city was operating normally.
“Rome is serene, full of tourists, despite all those proclamations on magazine covers that indicate it as one of the targets of terrorism,” the mayor said.
Authorities will launch drills throughout Italy next month to test the nation’s ability to respond to an attack, “with the aim of maintaining public order, of ensuring swift aid, correct information and prompt start of investigations,” said the ministry, which includes national police and a branch of Italy’s intelligence apparatus.