Morning police raids have led to the seizure of a cache of weapons including rocket launchers and the arrests of twelve suspects who praised Nazism.
Italian police have foiled a plan by right-wing extremists to blow up the Colle Val d'Elsa mosque, in Siena in central Italy according to reports by local media.
Among the 12 suspects were a father and son duo, 60 and 22, respectively, who intended to blow up the mosque by sabotaging its gas pipelines.
The members of the alleged terrorist plot, according to investigators, regularly praised Nazism and glorified racial hatred with police finding extremist paraphernalia in morning raids of the suspect’s houses.
A 60-year-old suspect, Andrea Chesi, works for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, an Italian bank. Chesi’s Facebook profile features several pictures of him using or wearing clothing with Nazi symbols.
During the raids police officers also found caches of weapons including knives, explosives, automatic guns and rocket launchers.
According to local investigators, the right-wing extremists intended to set up a paramilitary vigilante organisation "weapons in hand without calling the police and carrying out summary justice.”
The chief prosecutor added: “At the moment we have no evidence of correlations with already existing extreme-right political groups.”
Earlier this year, Italian police confiscated a surface to air missile from right-wing extremists. The 3.5-metre long missile was described as “a significant seizure, with few precedents in Italy” by local police officers.
During police raids at the time, officers found Nazi memorabilia and a significant cache of weapons which included automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Rising right in Italy
Italy has seen a surge in far-right activity which has also culminated in the emergence of the Northern League headed by Matteo Salvini.
The Northern League is Italy’s leading party polling at 34 percent. Its anti-immigrant, eurosceptic and anti-Islam platform has proved popular in Italy which has seen an influx of migrants from Africa, and broad economic stagnation.
The party was in a coalition government earlier this year with another populist party called the 5 Star Movement. In August this year, it broke from the coalition in the hope that it could result in a general election, however, a new government was formed without the party as its opponents united to prevent it from gaining further influence in Italy.