Italian security forces have deported an Islamist Moroccan national who had expressed his intentions to carry out a terror attack in the Vatican.
In prison for common crimes, the 32-year-old Moroccan had “confided his plan for the attack to a cellmate,” Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano reported Tuesday. The plot included the use of “a car bomb as well as Kalashnikov rifles,” which the man claimed he could procure in Rome through a contact there.
The jihadist has been described by those who knew him as “fanatical” and eager to “die in God’s name to win Paradise.”
“Today we made another deportation on national security grounds, marking the tempo of tireless prevention activities that we consider a pillar in combating violent extremism,” Alfano told reporters.
Italy’s counterterrorism efforts have indeed been remarkably successful and have been held up as a model for other countries to follow. Last year, a leading military analyst observed that it was no accident that despite the many factors going against Italy, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.
In an article in the Nikkei Asian Review, Romanian-born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak laid out his theory explaining Italy’s successful counterterrorism strategy. In a word: Italy has the necessary political will to deport those it considers a threat to national security, as it showed once again on Tuesday.
In his piece titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasted Italy with France and Belgium, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective in thwarting would-be terrorists before they strike.
Over the summer, Italian authorities expelled a Moroccan Salafi imam known to be a Muslim extremist for “reasons of public order and state security.”
Italian counterterrorism forces (DIGOS) had had the 51-year-old Imam Mohammed Madad under surveillance because of his radical profile, and eventually arrested him when his sermons took on an increasingly radicalized, violent and anti-Western tone.
The man had named his own daughter “Jihad,” and after his deportation is ineligible to apply for a visa to return to the country for the next 15 years.
In October, Italian authorities deported a Tunisian jihadist with ties to the Islamic State who was purportedly trying to reach the Syrian-Iraqi region to fight for Islamic State.
The 32-year-old Tunisian was discovered by security forces because of his online activity in a jihadist forum, and the man had openly declared his allegiance to Islamic State on his Facebook page.
Tuesday’s expulsion of the Moroccan Islamist brought the year’s total deportations to 62, not behind Italy’s total of 66 deportations during all of 2015.
According to Alfano, the Moroccan Muslim had been radicalized during a previous period of detention at the Regina Coeli prison and had been also been responsible for indoctrinating another detainee.
On Tuesday afternoon, the man was flown from Milan’s Malpensa Airport directly to Casablanca.
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