July 23, 2005

Italy terror threats credible – defense minister

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino
has said threats against Italy by the Islamic militant group
that has claimed responsibility for the London suicide bombs
attacks are credible.

The Abu Hafs Al Masri Brigade, an al Qaeda-linked group, in
an Internet statement posted on Friday morning said they were
ready to strike the Italian capital Rome, local media reported.

The group's claims of responsibility for previous attacks
have been discredited by security experts.

But Martino told reporters on Friday evening: "According to
Italian intelligence it is credible."

"We must get used to it ... Life is always characterised by
the presence of risks. We must not give the terrorists what
they want, we must not let ourselves be terrorised," he added.

Italy and France announced on Friday they were boosting
security to stave off terrorist attacks, as European
governments watched the London bombing campaign with growing

Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu on Friday said it
might only be a matter of time before Italy was hit.

His increased security measures included greater policing
on transport networks and a new law to make it illegal to train
people how to use explosives. Italian police will also be given
24 hours to identify detainees rather than the previous 12.

Italy is a close ally of the United States and has 3,000
troops in Iraq. Militants have threatened to attack unless the
forces are withdrawn, a move that the government has rejected.

The Abu Hafs al Masri Brigade claimed responsibility for
the July 7 train and bus bombs in London that killed 52 people
and injured 700. It has also threatened to target Denmark and
the Netherlands, as well as Italy.