Italy: No Indication of Olympic Terror Plans

Italy's interior minister said Friday there is no indication that international terrorist groups are threatening the Winter Olympics in Turin.

But Giuseppe Pisanu, speaking in Rome hours before the games' opening ceremony, added that an individual, improvised attack could not be ruled out given heightened tensions in the Muslim world over caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

"There are no indications of an international terrorist threat against the Olympics," said Pisanu, adding that neither Italy's intelligence agencies nor foreign ones cooperating with Rome had received any such signal.

"Still we keep our guard very high, and we take into account that - in the climate of protest that is agitating the Islamic world after the publication of the now famous caricatures - we can't rule out an unplanned, improvised action by an individual," Pisanu told reporters.

Pisanu also warned against possible action from domestic anarchists and anti-globalization protesters who have been recently active in Italy, including in the area near Turin.

"We must take into account a general climate that is rather tense," said Pisanu, referring to domestic protests.

In December, demonstrations against a high-speed train linking Turin to Lyon, France, turned violent in an Alpine valley, which is hosting some Olympic events. This week, new protests forced detours of the Olympic torch route.

Pisanu said that anti-globalization activists, anarchists and other subversive groups "tend to take advantage, with spectacular acts, of the Olympics' world stage."

He expressed confidence however that the measures in place would be able to "prevent most threats and contrast effectively any that might unfortunately reach its target."

Italy reviewed its security arrangements during a meeting of law enforcement and intelligence officials Thursday. Security efforts have been further stepped up in response to the worldwide protests among Muslims over the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The plan includes more than 15,000 police officers on guard and constant support from national intelligence. NATO is providing two AWACS surveillance planes to patrol over northern Italy during the games. One of the aircraft returned to Aviano air base in northern Italy Friday after a half-hour of flight when a smell of burning was detected, a British air force spokesman said. The British air force plane was being examined to determine the cause.

Later Friday, Turin's Caselle airport will suspend all takeoffs and landings for four 1/2 hours to guard against any possible disruptions during the opening ceremony.

Berlusconi said Pisanu briefed the ministers on the security situations during a Cabinet meeting earlier Friday, and that the minister had provided "reassuring information."


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