Anti-Terror Prosecutor Concerned Jihadists Are Among Illegal Migrant Wave

Men aboard a blue plastic boat point to the sky in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. The humanitarian rescue ship Ocean Viking saved 109 people from two unseaworthy boats. (AP Photo/Renata Brito)
AP Photo/Renata Brito

An Italian anti-terrorism prosecutor has expressed concerns that radical Islamic jihadists are among the wave of illegal migrants coming to Europe from North Africa.

National anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho expressed concern about the link between illegal migration and terrorism, particularly from migrants departing from Tunisia.

The prosecutor spoke at a meeting of the Schengen Parliamentary Committee and noted that the Tunisian terrorist behind last year’s attack at a cathedral in Nice, France that saw three people murdered had illegally entered the EU from Tunisia via Italy, Il Giornale reports.

There are also concerns of a potential surge of illegal migrants as the situation in Tunisia has destabilised in recent days, following the forced resignation of the country’s prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, who was allegedly physically beaten until he agreed to step down.

According to De Raho, Italy is still at risk of terrorist activity, although he claimed the Italian authorities have limited the risk due to their counter-terrorism operations.

Regarding Italian citizens who left to fight for Islamist extremist groups overseas, De Raho claimed that 56 had died, and of the 11 who had returned to Italy three were in prison and the remaining eight were being closely monitored.

People-smugglers are behind much of the migrant activity in the Mediterranean, and according to De Raho criminal organisations run people-trafficking in the area.

“The accompaniment of migrants is substantially controlled by the same criminal organizations that are based in the countries of origin of the migrants who are then destined for prostitution or work activities at below cost. These organizations take care of the transfer of migrants from one country to another,” he said.

Warnings of jihadis among illegal immigrants is not a new concern. In 2019, Italian police uncovered an organisation that helped smuggle at least 15 jihadists into Europe who posed as asylum seekers after being tipped off by a former Islamic radical, for example.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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