Seven suspected Islamist militants have been ordered to stand trial in Italy, charged with belonging to a cell that planned to recruit suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq, judicial officials said. The police closed in on the seven in May 2004 after wiretaps suggested that one was preparing to leave for Iraq. Investigators said the trial would start in October. In France on Thursday, judicial officials said they were holding two people suspected as militant Islamists as part of an investigation into young French Muslims heading to Iraq to fight U.S.-led forces. (Reuters, April 30)
The charges come just as Spain has returned to Italy an accused conspirator in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, Rabei Osman Ahmed, 33, known as “The Egyptian.” He faces terrorism charges in both countries. (BBC, April 18)
The charges also come at a sensitive political moment for Italy.