A Tunisian warden for a mosque in Italy has been arrested for links to international terrorism, radicalisation, and for facilitating illegal immigration. The would-be jihadist has also made numerous pro-Islamic State comments online, including: “I am with ISIS as long as I live.”
A criminal network of migrant smugglers led by Mohamed Kamel Khemiri, a 41-year-old radicalised Tunisian, was taken down by the Italian Special Operations Group ROS. The carabinieri arrested eight foreigners on charges of criminal association aimed at smuggling migrants and the falsification of documents in the province of Caserta, southern Italy, reports Corriere del Mezzogiorno.
Khemiri is also under investigation by the district prosecutor in Naples for association with international terrorism.
Amongst those arrested were two brothers, Ali and Mohammed Kamrul Shek, owners of textile companies, who were detained for creating fictitious employment contracts. Khemiri charged illegal migrants €600 for fake labour contracts and payroll documents which facilitated the North Africans in obtaining residency permits in Italy.
At a press conference the Chief of ROS, Giuseppe Governale, commented on the ringleader’s links to terrorism:
“Khemiri has not made concrete actions, but it has emerged from the investigation the possibility that he could attack.”
He added that the 41-year-old would-be jihadist is “a very dangerous person”.
His online associations with terrorism were well documented by police. So wide were his international connections with jihadists that according to investigators he “orbited the galaxy of fundamentalism”.
The Tunisian had gradually abandoned his micro-criminal activities to focus on the spreading of Islamic State propaganda, and encouraging the entry of illegal immigrants in Italy.
The Islamic State sympathiser was the warden of the mosque which he lived next door to. According to the district prosecutor, Khemiri “encouraged feelings of rabid anti-Westernism” and “carried out proselytising in favour of Islamist organisations leading to the religious radicalisation of some Muslim immigrants”.
Prior, the prosecutor of Naples had called for the arrest of the Tunisian twice, but the investigating judge, Alessandra Ferrigno, in both instances did not grant it.
The two requests made by the prosecutor were based on Facebook and Twitter comments as well as wiretaps. Khemiri had praised jihadists for the Charlie Hebdo and other Islamist attacks, commenting “justice is done”, and made disturbing anti-Semitic comments following the stabbing of nine Israeli commuters by an Arab in Tel Aviv, exclaiming: “Allah is great. The best morning of the Holy Land. God bless these hands!!!”
He had also expressed his devotion to the ideology of Islamic State, posting on Facebook: “I am with ISIS as long as I live. And if I die I urge you to be part of it.”