Italian police launch dawn offensive against eco-anarchists
At least 21 probed for suspected terrorism08 August, 15:18
(ANSA) - Rome , August 8 - Italian police launched early-morning raids on Wednesday to search houses in a crackdown on what they are calling environmental-anarchist terrorists.
Investigators suspect 21 people of arson and aggravated damage for terrorism purposes, after 30 searches were carried out in the northern Emilia-Romagna region and in Germany.
Police are targeting a Bologna-based group of "environmental anarchists" with international connections, accused of launching violent attacks against large corporations including IBM, McDonald's, and Italian energy giant Eni.
Targets, dating back at least two years, included laboratories believed to use animals in research and experimentation; as well as financial institutions and companies in the telecommunications and nuclear energy sectors. Police searches spread across the cities of Bologna, Modena, in Forlì-Cesena and in other Italian regions, as investigators probe possible links between traditional anarchists and violent environmentalists.
Officers seized gas masks, shears, about 4,000 euros in cash, computers, notes, publications, leaflets, letters, and information about some of the large companies that have been attacked.
They also found a manual for anarchists entitled "1,000 ways to sabotage the world," which gives instructions on how to build and place bombs, evade defence systems as well as police, sabotage sites, and rescue animals from labs.
Police say the searches in Germany helped to identify other Italian suspects connected with Bologna group.
The investigation, which is continuing, began after arsonists attacked a Bologna restaurant on Dec. 12, 2010.
Bombs were thrown through windows at the Roadhouse Grill, damaging the floor and furnishings. Eight days later, responsibility was claimed on a website, 'finoallafine.info', with a statement of solidarity with a trio arrested in Switzerland in April 2010 and accused of planning an attack on an IMB research facility in Zurich.
The current investigation later widened to include a March 26, 2011 attack on the headquarters of IBM Italy, when a crude bomb was left on a stairwell. On the wall, the word 'Elf' - a possible reference to the Earth Liberation Front - was written with dark green paint.
Three days later, four more crude bombs - all including flammable liquid and firecrackers - exploded, causing damage to the electrical systems at energy giant Eni.
The investigation also looked into an arson attack on July 21, 2011 at a warehouse connected with the University of Bologna's Department of Food Science in the Faculty of Agriculture.
Responsibility was claimed on the site of Informa-Action Animal Liberation.
Police are investigating links between the current suspects and similar probes in Perugia too.