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12 November 2003

U.S. Names 15 Members of Italian Al Qaida Cell as Terrorists

Members charged with plotting to commit terrorist activities, recruiting, forgery

The U.S. Treasury Department says it has designated 15 persons as terrorists for their involvement in Al Qaida terrorist cells in three Italian cities - Milan, Cremona and Parma.

Most of the 15 are already in custody in Italy. The Italian government has frozen their assets within Italy and has submitted their names to the United Nations to be included on a UN list of terrorists.

According to a Treasury Department fact sheet, (http://www.treas.gov/press/releases/reports/italianalqaidacellfactsheet.htm) the fifteen have been charged with various terrorist activities including planning to commit international terrorist activities in Italy and Europe; providing cell members with weapons and explosives; recruiting individuals and fabricating travel documents to help them reach military camps, mainly in Iraq; collecting money for terrorist-related activities; and sharing religious and extremist ideals.

Following are a Treasury Department press release and fact sheet:

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Department of the Treasury
Washington, D.C.
November 12, 2003

U.S. DESIGNATES 15 MEMBERS OF ITALIAN AL-QAIDA CELL

- Designation Comes in Response to the Submission by Italy of These Individuals to the UN

WASHINGTON - Today the U.S. Treasury Department announced the November 10th designation of fifteen individuals as terrorists. This action comes in support of the submission by Italy of these individuals to be listed as terrorists by the United Nations.

The individuals are designated for their involvement in Al Qaida terrorist cells in Milan, Cremona, and Parma. According to documents provided by the Italian government, the fifteen individuals have helped illegal immigration to Italy, and have provided financial and material support for terrorist activities in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Some of the fifteen have also recruited volunteers for military camps in Iraq, organized by the Ansar al Islam group. The Italian government has frozen the assets of these individuals within Italy. Most of the fifteen are already in the custody of Italian authorities.

The action follows from obligations to freeze the assets of individuals and organizations pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions and is consistent with the Financial Action Task Force's Special Recommendation III on Terrorist Financing. These names are being submitted by Italy for listing by the UN, which will mean that all Member States are required to freeze the assets of those listed and to bar cross-border travel.

Although the UN listing is still pending, the U.S. has determined that these individuals meet the standards for designation.

With the action, the U.S. and our international partners have designated 342 individuals and organizations as terrorists and terrorist supporters and have frozen over $136.8 million and seized more than $60 million in terrorist-related assets.


Following is a fact sheet on the designation:


U.S. Treasury
Office of Public Affairs

FACT SHEET: DESIGNATION OF 15 INDIVIDUALS TIED TO AN AL QAIDA CELL IN ITALY

Since 1999, Italian law enforcement agencies, have conducted several terrorist related investigations in order to expose terrorist cells linked with Al Qaida and operating in Italy. The Tribunale Ordinario di Milano has found all fifteen individuals listed below to be involved in Al Qaeda-related criminal activities and members of terrorist cells located in Milan, Cremona, and Parma. According to information provided by the Italian government, the fifteen individuals have helped illegal immigration to Italy and provided financial and material means for terrorist activities in Italy and Europe. Some of the fifteen have also recruited volunteers for military camps in Iraq, organized by the Ansar Al Islam group.

The Italian government has frozen the assets of these individuals within Italy. Most of the fifteen are already in the custody of Italian authorities. All are charged with participating in crimes such as the following:

- Fabricating, receiving, providing, and hiding forged documents to be used by individuals in order to reach military camps in Iraq and to move throughout Europe in order to maintain contacts with other transnational cells and to assist illegal immigrants in entering Italy and the European Union;

- Recruiting individuals for training in military camps, mainly in Iraq;

- Collecting money for terrorist-related activities;

- Organizing actions to carry out the terrorist cell's plans;

- Planning to commit international terrorist activities in Italy and Europe;

- Providing terrorists living in European and Middle-East countries with forged documents;

- Maintaining contacts throughout Europe, the Middle-East, and Western Asia -- in Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Afghanistan;

- Sharing religious and extremist ideals; and

- Providing cell members with weapons and explosives.

As participants of the cells in Italy, each of the 15 individuals has acted for or on behalf of Al Qaeda. In particular, some have acted for or on behalf of Ahmed Fadhil Nazar AL-KHALAYLEH (a.k.a. Abu Mussab AL-ZARQAWI), a terrorist leader with close operational ties to Al Qaeda, who was designated by the United States government on September 23, 2003, and has also been designated by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee. Some of the following individuals has assisted or provided financial, material or other support or services to or in support of Zarqawi's terrorist activities.

The Milan-based terrorist cell, organized and headed by El Ayashi, functioned as an associative structure within the transnational terrorist organization led by Zarqawi. The cell was involved in forging passports, collecting donations, and facilitating the illegal entry and departure of recruits into and out of Italy to combat coalition forces in Iraq. In addition, this cell recruited "brothers" to send to Iraq via Syria to the camps of Ansar Al Islam (a terrorist organization operating in Northern Iraq, linked to Al Qaeda, and designated by the United States Government and the UN). The Milan cell also had key individuals located in Parma and Cremona.

The cell included high-ranking Al Qaida operatives in direct contact with the organization's leadership in Syria and Iraq. It supported itself with criminal activities with ramifications throughout Italy and across Europe. Their key activity was to issue forged identification, transit, and residency documents in order to aid individuals in other European countries, and even East Asia, to reach Western countries freely and securely. The cell was organized according to specific roles, with the firm intention to eventually strike imminently with acts of terrorism in different countries.

Some of the 15 individuals have acted for or on behalf of the following SDGT's, terrorist leaders designated for their close operational ties to Al Qaeda: Ramzi Mohammed Abdullah BINALSHIBH, a terrorist leader responsible for planning the September 11 attacks and with close operational ties to Al Qaeda, who was designated on September 30, 2002; Sami Ben Khemais ESSID, designated on April 19, 2002; Es Sayed Abdelkader MAHMOUD, was designated on April 19, 2002; Tarek MAAROUFI, designated on August 29, 2002; Mokhtar BOUCHOUCHA, designated on April 19, 2002; Abdel RAHMAN, designated on October 12, 2001; Abdelkader Mahmoud ES SAYED, designated on April 19, 2002; Adel Ben SOLTANE, designated on August 29, 2002.

Individuals

1. EL AYASHI, Radi Abd El Samie Abou El Yazid (POB: Egypt)
2. CABDULLAAH, Ciise Maxamed (POB: Somalia)
3. HAMMID, Mohammed Tahir (POB: Iraq)
4. MOSTAFA, Mohamed Amin (POB: Iraq/Kurdish)
5. MOHAMED, Daki (POB: Morocco)
6. AL SAADI, Faraj Farj Hassan (POB: Libya)
7. SAADI, Nassim (POB: Tunisia)
8. BEN ABDELHAKIM, Cherif Said (POB: Tunisia)
9. RIHANI, Lotfi (POB: Tunisia) - Wanted by the Italian authorities
10. BOUYAHIA, Hamadi (POB: Morocco)
11. ROUINE, Lazher Ben Khalifa Ben Ahmed (POB: Tunisia)
12. ZARKAOUI, Imed Ben Mekki (POB: Tunisia)
13. TRABELSI, Mourad (POB: Tunisia)
14. HAMRAOUI, Kamel Ben Mouldi (POB: Tunisia)
15. DRISSI, Noureddine (POB: Tunisia)