The Italian intelligence agency has warned the country’s lawmakers that an attack from Islamic State is likely and Rome is the most probable target for the radical Islamist group.
The intelligence report, which was presented by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and intelligence chief Alessandro Pansa at the Palazzo Chigi, claims the risk of Islamic terrorism in the country and the rest of Europe is incredibly high. According to the intelligence agency, there is a particular worry after Islamic State mentioned Rome by its Arabic name “Rumiyah” in the latest issue of its magazine Dabiq, La Repubblica reports.
The number one terror threat, according to the report, is the mass movement of migrants travelling by boat from North Africa to Italy. Last year saw record numbers of migrants making the voyage across the Mediterranean Sea.
Subsequent border closures in the north left many of these migrants stuck in Italy, their desires to head to high-welfare European states frustrated.
“With reference to the risk of terrorist infiltration in migration flows, it is significant that two of those responsible for the attacks in Paris in November 2015 had reached Europe by exploiting the wave of migrants who went through the Balkans route,” they note, but say they have little intelligence about the operations of radical Islamists in North Africa.
Speaking of foreign fighters, the report says “some of these people decided not to go overseas because of the increasing difficulty reaching the Syrian-Iraqi theatre, determining instead to take the jihad directly to Italian territory as an alternative”.
One example, which was mentioned by Italian intelligence in January, could be radical Islamic fighters from Albania who could attack Italy.
The report also slammed the free-movement Schengen Area saying it was easy for radical Islamists to move around Europe and allows foreign fighters to hide in countries within Schengen. The report uses the recent example of Berlin terror attacker Anis Amri who was able to travel through multiple European countries before being shot in Milan days after the attack.
Underage Muslim extremists are also mentioned in the report as the intelligence agency calls them a “long-term threat”. The report notes, “The constant exposure of children to such high levels of violence, combined with strong ideological conditioning suffered during training, helps to outline a long-term threat.”
The Italian authorities have caught and arrested members of radical Islamist networks in the country over the past year. Earlier this month, an Italian court convicted a Morrocan-born man of plotting an attack in Rome. Last year, the government deported a Tunisian migrant who was plotting an attack on the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Libyan government has also warned the Italians there could be terror cells in Milan after they discovered internal Islamic State documents in the city of Sirte last August.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org