Italian police issued six arrest warrants Thursday for people suspected of plotting to join ISIS, with at least 3 conspiring to carry out attacks in Rome, specifically on the Vatican and the Israeli embassy, Reuters reported.
A transcript of the wire-tapped phone conversations between three of the suspects mentions the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in the Italian capital as potential targets.
“I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican God willing,” one of the arrested men is quoted as telling the man on the run in the transcript.
Authorities said one of the suspects, Abderrahim Moutahrrick, is a Moroccan-born national residing in Italy who had received orders from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) to conduct an attack in Rome specifically during the Holy Year of Mercy.
Moutahrrick is reported to have had communications with someone in ISIS held territory via WhatsApp reading: “Dear brother Abderrahim, I send you… the bomb poem… listen to the sheik and strike”, the referenced “sheik” being ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Warrants were also issued arrest warrants for a Moroccan man, Mohamed Koraichi, and his Italian wife who had left Italy last year to travel to Iraq or Syria where ISIS controls territory. to join ISIS. Mohamed Koraichi is suspected of being the man who communicated with Moutahrrick to carry out the attacks.
Another Moroccan man who was planning to travel with them, identified as Abderrahmane Khachia, 23, was arrested in the northern city of Varese, prosecutors said.
In an audio message intercepted by authorities, Abderrahim is reported to have replied to Koraichi “ I swear I will be the first to attack…in this crusading Italy…the Vatican with the will of God.”
ISIS has many time stated its burning desire to attack and conquer Rome, while often mentioning the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem and Constantinople as precedents.