On Thursday, the Independent reported that Italian police arrested four people suspected of plotting to blow up Venice’s iconic Rialto Bridge, one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Three men in their twenties and one minor were caught in overnight raids following a year-long investigation into an Islamic State terror cell.
Authorities say that the four individuals, 25-year-old Fisnik Bekaj, 28-year-old Arjan Barbaj, and 26-year-old Dake Haziraj, along with a minor; were all from Kosovo and were arrested in Calle de la Mandola. The address at which they were arrested is located on a street that runs direction to the Rialto Bridge.
The Independent reported that in a phone call intercepted by authorities, one of the men reportedly said: “You’ll go straight to paradise with all the non-believers in Venice… blow up the Rialto.”
“We must die,” another suspect reportedly said. “If I swear allegiance [to ISIS] tomorrow and they give me the order, I’ll be obliged to kill.”
A neighbor and wife of the administrator of the apartment complex where the individuals were arrested, Manuela Malandra, told local Italian newspaper Il Gazzettino that they were “extremely well behaved boys.”
“The only thing that seemed a bit strange to us for their young age was that they were always alone, surrounded by men,” Malandra said. “We never saw women going into the apartment. But otherwise, they were extremely well behaved boys.”
The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges that go over Venice’s Grand Canal, and the oldest of the four. It was built in 1181 and is one of the top tourist attractions in the Italian city.