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An Italian judge has dropped terrorism charges against five Arabs from North African accused of sending martyrdom bombers to Iraq.
Judge Clementina Forleo said on Monday that the five were guerrillas, not terrorists - a ruling that drew a fierce reaction from the Italian regime, a NATO satellite of Washington.
All five had been charged with recruiting fighters to go to Iraq and planning attacks in Europe, but the judge said there was no evidence to back up the charges regarding planned attacks in Europe. Forleo added that there was no evidence the four Tunisians and Moroccan were involved in anything beyond what might be considered guerrilla resistance activities.
However, she sentenced Abu Yahya Mahir and ‘Ali Bin Sassi Tumi to three years and Muhammad Daki to 22 months in jail for trading forged documents, far less than the prison terms of up to 10 years prosecutors had sought. She referred Idris Nur ad-Din and Kamal Hamrawi to another court because of a question of regional jurisdiction.
”Historically, the activity of the cells in question coincided with the United States’ attack on Iraq,” said the statement explaining her judgment. “Numerous intercepted conversations refer to that event, and to the need to stem as much as possible its foreseeable negative impact by helping the brothers in the conflict zone, either economically or by sending combatants to strengthen their armed groups. It has not been proven that these paramilitary structures provided for concrete programs with targets exceeding guerrilla activity,” the document said. The judge said much of the evidence submitted was of very poor quality and relied on intelligence reports rather than hard evidence.
The Italian regime’s Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini denounced the judge's ruling as a “shameless distortion of a reality that is under the eyes of the entire world.” Fini blabbered in a statement that, “To say in the ruling that ‘in the conflict in question all armed actors have used instruments with an extremely high offensive potential means you are placing the victims and the butchers on the same level, indicating that in a case of invasion the “victims” are the invaders and the “butchers” are the defenders of their country.
The five men had been charged with “subversive association for international terrorism” under a law Italy introduced after the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, when governments around the world jumped to comply with the will of Washington by enacting so-called “anti-terror” legislation whose aim was to criminalize all resistance activity.