`Al-Qa'ida' Attempt to Poison Rome's Water Supply Foiled

By Peachey, Paul | The Independent (London, England), February 21, 2002 | Go to article overview
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`Al-Qa'ida' Attempt to Poison Rome's Water Supply Foiled

Peachey, Paul, The Independent (London, England)

ITALIAN POLICE have foiled an apparent terrorist plot to poison Rome's water supply with cyanide, arresting four Moroccans and seizing a cache of chemicals.

The men, all in their 30s, were held after pre-dawn raids on Tuesday when police seized 4kg of a cyanide compound, detailed maps marking the American embassy in Rome and charts of the city's water network.

Some reports linked at least one of the men to a terrorist cell in Milan suspected of having links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network. The cell was dismantled last year with the arrest of seven Tunisians, who are now on trial in Milan.

Officials said later the chemical, potassium ferrocyanide, is used in gardening and would have quickly diluted in the water system. Emilio del Mese, a top government official in Rome, said: "If this substance had been put in the water network it appears that it would not have been capable of causing any damage whatsoever."

The men were reportedly part of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, a dissident faction of the radical Algerian Armed Islamic Group. Islamic propaganda and false documents were also reportedly found.

In Washington, the State Department spokesman Richard Boucher praised the Italian operation and the authorities who have "repeatedly thwarted" planned terrorist attacks against American targets in Italy.

However, the Italian chief prosecutor, Salvatore Vecchione, was outraged that news of the raid on the outskirts of the capital had leaked out.

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`Al-Qa'ida' Attempt to Poison Rome's Water Supply Foiled


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