$107M Spent on Security for Turin Olympics

TURIN, Italy - Italy has spent $107 million on security for the Turin Olympics and expects to spend more during the coming weeks, the interior minister said Monday.

Italian officials are "reasonably optimistic" that they can thwart any terrorist threats during the Feb. 10-26 Winter Games, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said.

Pisanu reiterated earlier warnings that the Olympics and the campaign ahead of Italy's April 9 general elections "could attract the attention of international terrorist groups."

Pisanu, who met with local security officials in Turin, repeated that there were no specific terrorist threats against the Olympics or against Italy. He said authorities are keeping tabs on Islamic terror groups and anarchists on the far left.

Italian authorities have said they are conducting surveillance on "numerous" people through telephone wiretaps and other intelligence operations. Surveillance is mainly carried out by an information center that coordinates intelligence from national and international security forces.

The $107 million covers manpower, including deployment of more than 9,000 extra officers for the Olympics. The extra security personnel have already been trained, he said.

"Each of these knows exactly what his duty is, who he needs to team up with, and in which chain of command he is inserted," the minister said.

Pisanu reiterated that Italian security will be in charge during the Olympics, although foreign security agencies will be included in the information center.

Accredited armed guards will be allowed to complement security details of foreign dignitaries, while an AWACS surveillance plane deployed by NATO will help control the airspace over the Olympics, he said.

Pisanu cited the work of Italian authorities in recent years in arresting 203 suspected members of Islamic terrorist cells and 94 left-wing extremists.

About 2,500 athletes, 1 million spectators and 5,000 officials are expected at the Olympics.


(c) 2005 Associated Press