An anti-terrorist operation coordinated by Europol in Italy and elsewhere in Europe has led to the dismantling of a network of Pakistani terrorists in connection with an attack carried out in 2020 in front of the former premises of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Italian police announced on Tuesday.
This operation, coordinated by the public prosecutor’s office in Genoa (north) and the management of the anti-mafia and anti-terrorism service, resulted in “the arrest of Pakistani citizens,” announced the police in a press release referring to the issue of 14 arrest warrants.
The members of this network, “all suspected of criminal association with the aim of international terrorism,” are “directly linked to Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud.”
The latter, a Pakistani Muslim national, had attacked a man and a woman with a meat cleaver in front of the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on September 25, 2020.
The terrorist attack came amid the trial of the January 2015 Islamic terrorist attack on the newspaper, which republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Europol-coordinated operation also involved the counter-terrorism offices of Spain and France, coordinating Europol’s European Counter-Terrorism Centre, Italian police said.
“The investigation revealed the active existence, in several Italian provinces and some European countries, of a terrorist cell formed by a larger group of young Pakistanis, all of whom were direct contacts of the perpetrator of the attack against Charlie Hebdo”, she added.
Four Pakistanis, aged 17 to 21, who were in contact with Islamic terrorist Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, had already been charged in France and imprisoned in December 2020.
It is not surprising that the suspects have all been Muslim Pakistanis. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been warning non-muslims for years that ‘the day will come when westerners think twice before disrespecting the Prophet’
Khan demanded that Western countries outlaw blasphemy of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and “penalize those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims”.