Italian Minister Says Rome 'Primary Target' for IS

Italy at risk as symbol of West and Christianity according to interior minister, who notes at least 48 Italians have left for jihad.

Ari Yashar,

The Vatican, Rome (file)
The Vatican, Rome (file)
Flash 90

The jihadist Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) regime imposing brutal Muslim law on the large areas of Iraq and Syria it has captured now has its sights primarily set on Italy, according to senior sources in that nation.

"The principal target of IS remains the West and every symbol that represents it - historically, politically, culturally," Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told the Italian lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

Italy and Rome are "not secondary" targets according to Alfano, who pointed to the area being the cradle of Christianity and the home of the Vatican as making it a likely symbolic target, reports the Italian Gazzetta del Sud.

Strengthening the concerns is the fact that 48 Italians are known to have left to join the jihad in Syria says Alfano; and more specifically, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said on July 2 that Rome would be targeted. The rising local threat of jihadist sentiment has recently been expressed by anti-Semitic Italian Muslim clerics.

However, Alfano emphasized that as yet there is no direct "investigative evidence of terrorist plans in our country."

Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti also spoke at the parliament, calling for the need to "use all means available to contain and overcome this threat." He called for international cooperation and said it was "essential" for that purpose.

According to Pinotti, Italy is providing Kurdish and Iraqi forces with "weapons, munitions, communication and intelligence" in their fight against IS, and added that such cooperation would be increased.

There has been talk of the US establishing an international coalition to fight the IS threat, a coalition that Israel reportedly is taking part in by providing intelligence information.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday "in order to stop and overcome the Islamic State, we have learnt since 9/11 that there must be cooperation between intelligence agencies from across the free world, a sharing of experience and operational cooperation."




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