Analysis: New Anti-Terror Measures In Italy

    By Roland Flamini WASHINGTON — Arab women in Italy are no longer allowed to wear the full-face veil — the burqa — because of a ban on face coverings as a security measure. This is one of a series of new regulations introduced in the aftermath of the July 7 London bombings as Italians become increasingly convinced their country is next on the terrorist hit list. Alarm bells rang when one of the men wanted in the July 21 failed bombings in the British capital — Hussain Osman aka Hamdi Issac — was captured in Italy where, it turned out, several members of his family also lived. In addition, the Italian internal security agency warned Monday Islamist fighters who had gone to Iraq to join the insurgency were beginning to trickle back to Europe bent on doing mischief, especially in Italy. The no-veil ban has offended the sensibilities of Italy’s 1 million Muslims; but it’s been a crime since Italy’s struggle against the Red Brigades terrorists almost 30 years ago to conceal the face to avoid being identified, but the fine has now been doubled. This week the Rome government introduced new security measures. Users of Internet centers and cafes throughout the country have to show proof of identity. Under the new rules, center operators must store electronically all messages until Dec. 30, 2007, and make the data on the sender and recipient available to the police on request. The actual texts of the messages will remain protected. This measure was first proposed to the European Union by British Prime Minister Tony Blair following 7/7, but some EU countries rejected them as an invasion of privacy. Public telephone centers are now required to demand proof of identity from callers, and to keep details of all calls. With Sept 11, 2001, in mind, when two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers at New York’s World Trade Center, the Italians also introduced mandatory screening for flying school applicants. Mohamed Atta, believed to have been the leader of the 9/11 group, learned to fly, unchallenged, at a pilots’ school in Venice, Fla. The Italians are hoping to filter out would-be terrorists by requiring students to provide proof from the police where they live that they have no criminal record; and this is only to be issued after a nationwide security check. New regulations virtually limit possession and use of most types of detonators and high explosives exclusively to the Italian armed forces and the police, and imposes strict restrictions on their importation, export and transportation. The mining and engineering industries can acquire low-grade explosives with special permits. The main Italian cities are meanwhile putting in place security measures of their own. Rome has doubled security in its many museums and historic sites. Work has started on protective barriers surrounding the Colosseum as well as on installing security cameras. The use of monitoring devices is a significant step in a country that previously showed little enthusiasm for them. But the network of security cameras all over London played a significant part in identifying the suicide bombers in the July 7 terrorist attacks that claimed 56 lives, and the lesson is slowing sinking in elsewhere in Europe. On Friday, Turin announced it had scheduled a series of simulated terrorist attacks on a train station, a shopping mall and Turin International Airport.

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