A Palestinian man with links to the Islamic State group was arrested in Italy Wednesday on suspicion that he was planning a terror attack on the island of Sardinia, according to a state prosecutor.
State anti-terror prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said the suspect planned to poison the water supply in the central island town of Macomer as well as a nearby military base, with ricin and anthrax.
The suspect was identified by the Il Fatto Quotidiano daily as Alaji Aminun, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, who moved to Macomer.
The arrest came two months after Lebanese authorities arrested another Palestinian refugee on suspicion of plotting to poison the water supply of a military barracks there. At the time, officials said the suspect had been linked to the Islamic State and had worked with another man, apparently Aminun, to “carry out a mass poisoning in a foreign country” through “poisoning food during a public holiday,” without specifying the location.
Un uomo è stato arrestato dal #Nocs a Macomer (Nu) per il probabile progetto di un attacco in una località della Sardegna. L'operazione è stata
condotta dalla Digos di Nuoro e coordinata dalla #Dcpp pic.twitter.com/QxxhRp4Gyu
— Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) November 28, 2018
De Raho told reporters at a press conference in Rome Wednesday that the 38-year-old suspect planned the chemical attack with his cousin, who resides in Lebanon. He said Italian authorities were tipped off to the plot by Interpol, who learned of it from Lebanese authorities in September when Aminun’s cousin, 27, was arrested.
It was not clear when Aminun planned to carry out the attack, but De Raho said police believed he wanted the poisoning to coincide with a holiday.
Italy’s anti-terror unit arrested Aminun in downtown Macomer earlier on Wednesday after tracking him for an unspecified amount of time.
Authorities confirmed that Aminun held an Italian residency visa, and had moved to Sardinia from Lebanon several years ago. He resided in Macomer with his partner, a Moroccan woman, and her four children.
According to local media reports, Aminun’s partner told police she had no knowledge of the poisoning plot.