Three young Libyans were arrested on Saturday (6 March) in possession of automatic weapons and a hand grenade at Rome's Fiumincino International Airport, scene of an Arab guerrilla attack in 1973.
GV PAN Fiumincino airport
CU INT Sign "Police"
PAN Two of the arrested men seated surrounded by armed police
SV Third arrested man standing handcuffed between police and security guards
CU ZOOM OUT FROM Handgrenade TO guns and bullets on table TO officials looking on
CU ZOOM OUT Passport and other documents being looked at
SV Two of arrested men escorted from airport accompanied by police
Initials BB/1600 PK/MR/BB/1616
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Background: Three young Libyans were arrested on Saturday (6 March) in possession of automatic weapons and a hand grenade at Rome's Fiumincino International Airport, scene of an Arab guerrilla attack in 1973.
The Italian police said that all three had arrived from Cairo and were booked on a connecting flight to Paris. They were arrested when the weapons were discovered by a metal-detector device, less than an hour after the Libyan Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdel-Moneim Al-Honi, arrived on an earlier flight from Cairo, en route for an unknown destination.
According to Reuters, quoting Egyptian Government sources in Cairo, the three Libyans had been sent to persuade the Libyan Foreign Minister to return to Libya. Reuters said that Mr. Al-Honi and his family had been living in Cairo for several months, following disagreement with the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, on foreign policy -- including his speeches attacking Egypt. His resignation has never been officially announced, and he has not worked at his post since late last year.
The Italian police identified the men carrying the weapons bag as Saad Abdusalem and said that he was travelling on a diplomatic passport issued by the Libyan Foreign Ministry. His two companions were identified as Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim and Abdel Gasem El Snosi. All three gave their ages as 24.
They made no attempt to resist arrest when the metal detector signalled the alarm, as they walked through the airport transit lounge. A full scale alert followed -- the first at Fiumicino for over two years. In December 1973, a group of Arabs attacked a Pan American Airways jet and hijacked a Lufthansa plane to the Persian Gulf, leaving more than 30 people dead.
The police said that the three Libyans refused to answer questions and gave no clue as to why they were carrying the weapons which included three pistols, or what they planned to do with them. The Libyan Embassy in Rome refused to comment on the incident or Mr. Al-Honi's unexpected arrival in Italy.