Published: Wed, July 17, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Italian police seize missile in raids on far-right sympathizers

Italian police seize missile in raids on far-right sympathizers

Counterterrorism police in northern Italy have seized an air-to-air missile and other sophisticated weapons during raids on far right extremist groups.

According to the Drive, the missile is a French-made, semi-active radar-seeking Matra Super 530F, contained within a casing that identifies it as purchased by the Qatar Armed Forces in 1980.

In a statement to the BBC, police described the missile as "in flawless working order". They also confirmed that they stumbled upon the find when they were investigating far-right Italians "who have fought in Ukraine's Donbass region against the [pro-Russian] separatists".

The discoveries stemmed from an investigation into Italians backing pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, Turin police said.

ROME-Italian police say they knew they were onto something big when they caught two Neo-Nazi sympathizers discussing the latest weapon in their arsenal on a tapped WhatsApp thread.

La Repubblica wrote that authorities claimed the suspects were trying to sell the missile for about 400,000 euros ($751,445), with Turin Police Chief Giuseppe De Matteis saying that the seizure had "few precedents for the quality of the weapons and their violent potential".

Police also seized Nazi memorabilia from the properties.

"It is extremely unsafe and risky to turn it into a missile to fire from the ground, unless you have good engineers and equipment", a missile expert who asked not to be named told AFP.

Among other weapons uncovered were 26 guns, 20 bayonets, 306 gun parts - including silencers and rifle scopes - and more than 800 bullets of various calibres.

"If one of the arrested was a candidate of Forza Nuova way back in 2001 (18 years ago!), we affirm that on the contrary none of the people involved have been militants of Forza Nuova - which has nothing to do with the search this morning", a press officer for Forza Nuova told CNN.

While Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was uncharacteristically quiet following the raid, the opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) urged the country's populist government to do more to tackle right-wing extremists.

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