Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Italy breaks up vigilante group that hunted down Islamists:
An illegal group set up to hunt down Islamists and which included police officers in its ranks has been broken up by Italian authorities.
Prosecutors in the port city of Genoa said yesterday that the group was founded last year with private donations from wealthy members just after the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, which killed 191 people.
Two of the suspected leaders of the self-styled Department of Strategic Anti-Terrorism Studies have been put under house arrest.
The group allegedly falsified law enforcement badges and attempted to tap into protected files at the interior ministry, prosecutors said.
Some 25 people were being investigated. Roughly half of them are Italian law enforcement, including Carabinieri, prison guards and financial police.
In a statement, the prosecutors' office said the apparent involvement of police was "particularly worrying".
The group also ran a website in which it compared itself to the police and offered highly specialised research needed to identify and prevent possible attacks. It asked for anonymous tips on militant activity."