Families of Pakistanis arrested by Italian police last month for their alleged involvement in terrorist activities have refuted the charges levelled on their relatives. In raids across the country on April 24, Italian police arrested 10 people and was searching for eight others suspected of being part of an armed group linked to the banned al Qaeda. All 18 suspects are Pakistani and Afghan nationals.
What’s in a name?
“We have no links with Osama Bin Laden. Osama is the name of a child in our family and that has caused the confusion,” claimed Bahadar Sher, a resident of Tordher village, Swabi. Sher’s brother Imtiaz Khan is among the 10 people booked by Italian police.
Sher told The Express Tribune via telephone that the police have accused his brother of giving protection to Osama Bin Laden because they recorded his telephone conversations discussing Osama the child. According to Sher, the child was injured in an accident in 2010 and Imtiaz would regularly ask about him in his phone calls home. “This might have caused the confusion as the police may have been listening in to Imtiaz’s calls in those days,” he said.
Sher added eight people from Tordher were detained by Italian police in those raids. “My brother runs a cosmetics shops in Oblia and we spoke to him two days before his arrest. Since we learnt of his arrest, we have had no contact with him.”
The Swabi local further said officials of secret agencies came to their house from Islamabad a few days ago, asked questions about Imtiaz and assured them he would be released. “His wife and children are worried. We believe he is innocent,” maintained Sher.
Noorul Amin, brother of Zulkefal—the spiritual leader police detained from Bergamo—said they have been living in Italy for almost a decade. “My brother taught children the Holy Quran in a mosque and has never held a pistol in his life,” said Amin over the phone.
Amin, who lives in Italy as well, said his family is associated with tabligh and the police’s assertions that Zulkefal is involved in bomb blasts in Peshawar are incorrect. “My brother has spoken to his wife and children and our lawyer is certain he will be released,” said Amin.
A helping hand
The families of detained suspects have approached Swabi MPA Abdul Karim Khan for help. Khan will submit a resolution in the provincial assembly urging the federal government to take up the matter with the Italian government.
The lawmaker told The Express Tribune eight people from his constituency are detained in the European country and he will raise the issue on the house floor.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2015.
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