Italy issues 4 arrest warrants over alleged weapon smuggling to Libya, Iran

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Italian authorities issued at least four arrest warrants on Tuesday in an operation against an alleged traffic of weapons towards Iran and Syria, local media reported.

The operation was coordinated by the anti-mafia District Directorate in Naples (DDA), and targeted three Italians and a Libyan national, according to Ansa news agency.

All of them were charged with trafficking weapons into Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015, local media said citing sources of the prosecution office.

The trafficking would have concerned assault rifles, surface-to-air missiles, helicopters, and some foreign-made "dual-use" materials to be smuggled into Libya and Iran despite the arms embargo both countries were subject to.

The operation was countrywide, and carried out by Venice's finance police in Naples, Salerno, Rome, and L'Aquila. The three Italian suspects were arrested, while the Libyan man could not be traced, according to authorities.

Among the Italian suspects are a couple living in San Giorgio a Cremano at the outskirts of Naples. The man, 69, converted to Islam, and would have become radicalized.

Among other things, prosecutors in Naples suspected the couple to have smuggled weapons to an armed Libyan armed group linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, according to Ansa. The couple's son would also be under investigation, but not arrested.

The third Italian arrested is the chief executive of Societa Italiana Elicotteri, an aviation company headquartered at the Urbe Airport in the Italian capital, according to the firm's own website.

The owner of the company was already under investigation in a different probe launched in 2016 for allegedly smuggling arms, and recruiting mercenaries for Somalia.

The Libyan suspect was believed to be currently outside Italy, and there was so far no evidence he had direct contacts with terrorist groups, Italian AdnKronos news agency cited a colonel of the finance police in Venice running the operation as saying.

The investigation began in 2011, based on information gathered during an anti-mafia operation by Naples prosecutors against a Mafia clan. Enditem

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