ROME — Italian police on Saturday arrested a Pakistani father and son who allegedly spent just over $200 to set up a reliable and untraceable phone network that was used by the militants who carried out last year’s terror attacks in Mumbai, India.
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 began on Nov. 26 they allegedly 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-terror 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, 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 terror plots.
Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Fonsi told The Associated Press by phone.
Ten militants, allegedly from Pakistan, killed 166 people in a three-day assault on luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and other sites in India’s financial capital.
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, Fonsi said. He lives in Spain and his identity was probably stolen when he used another money transfer agency somewhere in the world, Fonsi said.