Italy: underestimating threat of terrorism "unatonable sin"

Italy's interior minister said Tuesday that underestimating the threat of terrorism would be an "unatonable sin," and added that measures including the monitoring of mosques and call centers appeared to be working.

Authorities in Italy have been watching 13,000 sensitive targets, including mosques, call centers and Islamic centers, Giuseppe Pisanu said, without elaborating on the measure except to say it was proving to be an effective deterrent, the AP reports.

"Unfortunately we know that the threat looms over Europe and our country, and we need to face it as best we can," Pisanu told reporters at the end of a meeting of the national security committee.

"It would be an unatonable sin to underestimate the terrorist threat," Pisanu said.

Pisanu also said the government would follow up with more terror drills such as one held this week in Milan, including moving to a more "advanced" phase that would mean holding more drills without giving advanced notice to residents. The one in Milan was Italy's first large-scale simulation of a terror attack, but the public was informed about it well in advance.

Drills similar to the one in Milan have been scheduled for Rome, Turin and Naples.

Italian authorities on Monday searched about 20 apartments and conducted raids against 11 Algerians suspected of providing financial support to a terrorist group based in Algeria.

The 11 were suspected of sending money to the militant Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which is said to have links to al-Qaida, and were placed under investigation for international terrorism, police officials said. No arrests were made in the raids, but four of the suspects had already been detained on separate charges.

Italy has been on high alert since the July 7 bombings in London, stepping up security at airports, government buildings and monuments.


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