Milan bomber, Islamist buddies had more explosives ready

From The Globe and Mail

Milan bomber said to have accomplices

A bomb disposal expert inspect the debris on the site of the bomb blast, in front of the Santa Barbara Military Barracks on October 12, 2009 in Milan, Italy.

Police say the 35-year-old Libyan man seriously wounded in attack on army barracks wanted Italy to pull out of Afghanistan

Sara Rossi

Milan Reuters Published on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 8:08AM EDT

A Libyan man who tried to bomb a Milan army barracks had accomplices and belonged to a group that had more explosives ready, Italian police said today.

Newspapers said the 35-year-old failed suicide bomber, Mohammed Game, who was seriously wounded in the attack, was an unsuccessful businessman who turned to militant Islam and wanted Italy to pull out of Afghanistan.

Police said they had arrested two suspected accomplices, an Egyptian and a Libyan, and found 100 kg of “fertilisers and other materials,” used to make explosives, at one of their homes.

Mr. Game got inside the perimeter of the Santa Barbara barracks early on Monday and detonated his bomb while shouting in Arabic. But an army corporal managed to stop him getting close to the main building and a defect meant the bomb only detonated partly. The corporal was only slightly hurt while Mr. Game lost both eyes in the explosion and later had one arm amputated.

Interior Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano said the incident “confirms there are people in Italy, alone or in cells, who see themselves as our enemy and want to hit symbolic or real targets using input received from mosque circles or the Internet.”

An immigrant with a residence permit who is married to an Italian woman, with four children, Mr. Game prayed regularly at Milan’s main Jenner Street mosque and had not appeared to be an extremist, said the mosque’s president, Abdel Hamid Shaari.

Newspaper reports said that after failing in the restaurant business, Mr. Game became increasingly militant and told friends that Italian troops “should not be in Afghanistan any more. Someone has got to make them understand that.”

Police found about 40 kg of ammonium nitrate in an apartment as well as some 60 kg of chemicals to make explosive devices similar to the one Mr. Game used, the magistrates investigating the case said in a statement.

The Santa Barbara barracks is home to signals, artillery and cavalry units currently making up part of Italy’s 3,100-strong contribution to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Italy pulled out of Iraq in 2006.

Security officials have called Monday’s attack an “isolated incident” but acknowledge that the barracks had been identified as a potential target for an attack by Islamic militants. Intelligence reports and arrests show that militant groups linked to al-Qaeda, especially in North Africa, are active in Italy, mostly in recruiting and financing for attacks planned elsewhere in Europe or to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Political violence in Italy itself in recent years has consisted mostly of small-scale incidents linked to remnants of the leftist Red Brigade guerrillas active in the 1970s and ‘80s.

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