Monday, October 01, 2007

How strong is Baathi alliance with AQI?

I wonder exactly when the Baathists allied themselves with AQI, and how strong the alliance is today.

Iraqi terror suspect arrested in Italy

By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 28, 2:35 PM ET

ROME - An Iraqi allegedly linked to al-Qaida in Iraq and suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on U.S. bases there using ultra-light aircraft was arrested Friday in northern Italy, authorities said.

Saber Fadhil Hussien, 45, was arrested on international terrorism charges in a morning raid in Padua, Carabinieri paramilitary police said.

Hussien, a former member of ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, had been in touch with aides of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed last year in a U.S. airstrike, said Col. Francesco D'Auria, head of the Carabinieri unit in Padua that conducted the investigation.

"It is documented that he was in contact with the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group," D'Auria told The Associated Press by telephone. "He was organizing an attack against American bases in Iraq."

The attack would have employed suicide bombers, anti-tank weapons and ultra-light helicopters that the group planned to buy from an Italian company, investigators said.

"These would have been used because they fly low and cannot be spotted by radar," D'Auria said.

Police also conducted searches at the homes of three other Iraqis in the Venice area, turning up maps and other documents, but there was not enough evidence to arrest them, police said.

D'Auria said he did not have more details on the intended target because Hussien and his contacts never named it in telephone conversations wiretapped by police. The target may be identified once investigators study the maps found in the raids, he said.

The searches also turned up the names of Hussien's contacts in Iraq, and D'Auria said the Italians would relay the information to Iraqi police and U.S. authorities.

Investigators who trailed Hussien for nearly a year would have liked to learn more about the plot before arresting him, but they were forced to act when they learned he planned to travel Sunday to Romania and then on to Syria.

"There he was to meet an Iraqi contact and give him detailed information about the target," D'Auria said.

Hussien had been living in Italy for 25 years and operated kiosks that sold kebabs. D'Auria said Hussien also provided financial support to his cell, using money transfer agencies to send about $4,200 a month to Iraq.

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