A group of Islamic State terrorists plotted to destroy the famed and historic Rialto Bridge in Venice. The terrorists planned to detonate a bomb at the iconic span over a Venetian canal that could have killed hundreds of people.
According to the UK-based Telegraph, special police raided several places and arrested four Muslim Kosovar males: Fisnik Bekaj, 24, Drake Haziraj, 25, Arian Babaj, 27, and an unnamed minor. The three men are reportedly admirers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Italian anti-terrorism police conducted surveillance of the men and covertly recorded their conversations about dying for Islam. As an example of their devotion to jihad, the men were heard to celebrate the deadly attack in London last week in which a native-born British Muslim drove his car onto the sidewalk of Westminster bridge, mowing down innocent pedestrians, and then drove up to Parliament where he stabbed a police officer to death. Police shot him to death on the spot.
One of the terrorists was heard to say in the secretly recorded phone calls: “You’ll go straight to paradise because of all the infidels in Venice. Put a bomb on the Rialto.” The men had studied how to carry a bomb in a backpack and were learning how to most effective commit murder by stabbing. “We must die,” one of the men reportedly said of the proposed attack. “If I swear allegiance [presumably to ISIS] tomorrow and they give me an order, I’ll be obliged to kill.”
A paper in Venice, Il Gazzettino, noted that acquaintances of the alleged terrorists said that they were “extremely well-behaved boys.” Manuela Malandra, who is married to the manager of the building where the men lived, said “The only thing that seemed a bit strange to us for their young age was that they were always alone, surrounded by men.”
Malandra added, “We never saw women going into the apartment. But otherwise, they were extremely well-behaved boys.”