RealNews

A Road to Ansar Began in Italy

Wiretaps are said to show how Al Qaeda sought to create in northern Iraq a substitute for training camps in Afghanistan. Days before the fall of the Ansar al Islam terrorist group in northern Iraq last month, an alleged Ansar militant named Noureddine Drissi got an urgent call on his satellite phone from his imam. The call came from an unlikely place: this comfortable northern Italian town of 70,000 known for its 13th century bell tower, Christmas sweets and violin-making workshops that preserve the delicate artistry of Antonio Stradivari. But on the clandestine map of Islamic terrorist networks, Cremona was closer than it seemed to the Iraqi village of Kurmal in Ansar’s mountain stronghold. Drissi, a Tunisian immigrant, had left his job as the librarian of a mosque in Cremona three months earlier and made the journey to a terrorist training camp near Kurmal, authorities say. Italian police wiretapped his long-distance conversations with the religious leader in Cremona who had allegedly sent Drissi and other recruits to join Ansar’s holy war. Full Story

OODA Analyst

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