ROME – Police in southern Italy have arrested an Algerian man wanted by Belgian authorities for alleged involvement in a Belgium-based network which provided false IDs used by people implicated in the Paris and Brussels attacks, investigators said Sunday.
Djamal Eddine Ouali was arrested Saturday in the town of Bellizzi, outside of the port city of Salerno, said Luigi Amato, the head of Salerno police's anti-terrorism squad. Ouali apparently "didn't know he was wanted" by Belgian authorities and applied for a residency permit about 10 days ago in Italy, Amato said in a telephone interview.
Ouali, 40, was jailed while authorities expected extradition procedures to soon begin, the police official said.
Ouali had entered in Italy sometime after late December, Amato said. His wife, also Algerian, is also in Italy.
A statement from police in Salerno noted that authorities' interest in Ouali was triggered when they noticed he had the same name of man sought by Belgium for alleged involvement in "a criminal network dedicated to false documents on a large scale" that emerged last year in Brussels.
Belgium issued a warrant in January, three months after a raid in the Brussels suburb of Saint-Gilles yielded some thousand digital images used for false documents.
That raid discovered "photos and of some aliases used by the three terrorists belonging to the group which planned and carried out the attacks in Paris" on Nov. 13, 2015, the Italian police statement said.
The Italian news agency ANSA said the aliases included Soufiane Kayal, the name used by Najim Laachraoui, one of the suicide bombers in last week's Brussels airport attack, as well as one used by Mohamed Belkaid, who was killed during the hunt for Salah Abdeslam, as well as an alias, Yassine Baghli, used by Abdeslam, the suspected ringleader of the attacks.
Amato said Oauli declined to answer investigators' questions. The official stressed he couldn't elaborate on what links the documents' falsification had to the suspects in the Paris and Brussels attacks. Italy's investigation of Oauli's activities on Italian territory is also continuing.