- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

ROME | Italian police on Saturday arrested a Pakistani father and son who are said to have spent just over $200 to set up a reliable and untraceable phone network that was used by militants who carried out last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The two were arrested in an early-morning raid in Brescia, where they ran a money-transfer agency, and it is was not immediately clear if they were aware of the purpose their funds had served, police in the northern Italian city said.

The day before the attacks on Mumbai - formerly known as Bombay - began on Nov. 26, they are said to have used a stolen identity to send money to a U.S. company to pay for Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terrorism police in Brescia.

The transfer was just $229, but gave the militants five lines over the Internet, which are difficult to trace and allowed them to keep in touch even during the rampage, Mr. Fonsi said.

The arrests on the eve of the first anniversary of the attacks underscored the long-standing concern of experts and officials over the ease with which small sums can be channeled through money-transfer agencies to fund deadly terrorism plots.

Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Mr. Fonsi told the Associated Press by phone.

Ten militants, said to be from Pakistan, killed 166 people in a three-day assault on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in India’s financial capital. One Italian was among the 19 foreigners killed.

The money from Brescia was transferred under the identity of another Pakistani who had never been to Italy and was not involved in the attacks, Mr. Fonsi said.

The Pakistani lives in Spain, and his identity was probably stolen when he used another money-transfer agency somewhere in the world, Mr. Fonsi told reporters at a news conference.

The two suspects in Brescia, identified in a police statement as 60-year-old Mohammed Yaqub Janjua and 31-year-old Aamer Yaqub Janjua, are accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism as well as illegal financial activity.

Though jihadist propaganda leaflets were found in the home of one of those arrested Saturday, there was no evidence that the two, who have lived in Italy since 1992, were directly linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based group blamed for the Mumbai attacks, he said.

Two more Pakistanis were arrested in Saturday’s raids and charged with committing fraud, money laundering and other crimes through the masked transfers, but they were not linked to the Mumbai attacks. A fifth Pakistani man escaped arrest and was still being sought.

The suspects had transferred about $590,000 between 2006 and 2008 to various countries.

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