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2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Italy

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Italy, 5 August 2010, available at: [accessed 21 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Italy continued to aggressively investigate and prosecute terrorism suspects, dismantle terrorist-related cells within its borders, and maintain high-level professional cooperation with its international partners. Italy was one of the largest troop contributors to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and justified its commitment to "prevent it from becoming a launching pad for terrorists," according to the Italian Minister of Defense. Italy immediately called for the EU to provide increased counterterrorism assistance to Yemen after the failed December 25 bombing attempt of Northwest Flight 253.

During the last two months of 2009, two detainees from Guantanamo and one from Afghanistan were transferred to Italy for prosecution in terrorism proceedings pending in Milan. The transfers were made pursuant to a memorandum of understanding finalized between U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Italian Justice Minister Angelino Alfano in September.

Italy's law enforcement and judicial authorities had several noteworthy cases in 2009:

  • In April, Italian prosecutors began investigating a group of North Africans and others in Venice on charges of international terrorism. One was a former imam in the southern city of Caserta who reportedly controlled a network providing lodging, money, and false identity papers to migrants traveling to other European countries.

  • In May, judicial authorities issued arrest warrants for Bassam Ayachi and Raphael Marcel Frederic Gendron, French citizens, on charges of international terrorism for promoting, managing, and funding an Islamic organization connected to the al-Qa'ida (AQ) network, and for recruiting terrorists locally and through the Internet for potential attacks in France, the UK, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Both were already detained in Bari under 2008 charges of encouraging illegal migration. They were reportedly connected to a dozen other international terrorists arrested in December 2008 in France and Belgium. Ayachi, of Syrian origin, was a former imam in Belgium. Gendron, a Muslim convert, was co-founder of the Belgium Islamic Center, Assabyle. In July, a judge sentenced Ayachi and Gendron to 54 months in prison.

  • In June, Tunisian citizen Houcine Tarkhani was arrested in Sicily. His arrest had been sought since 2006 for his participation in the planning of a terrorist attack against the Church of San Petronio in Bologna, which contains a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed, and the Milan subway system. Italian authorities expelled seven others in 2006 for the same incident. The group had connections to Algeria, Morocco, Syria, France, Spain, and Denmark.

  • In October, Libyan citizen Mohamed Game unsuccessfully attempted a suicide attack against an army barracks in Milan. The explosive device partially malfunctioned, wounding him and a guard who tried to stop him. Game and two alleged accomplices, Egyptian Mohmoud Abdelaziz Kol, and Libyan Mohamaed Imbaeya Israfel, were arrested for the incident. Game reportedly had developed targeting profiles of Prime Minister Berlusconi and other senior Italian officials. Interior Minister Maroni reported that Game and his accomplices were self-radicalized over the Internet by al-Qa'ida propaganda and had no connections to other terrorist cells.

  • In November, Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and his son Aamer Yaqub, of Pakistan, were arrested in Brescia in a joint operation with the FBI and Indian intelligence services in connection with the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The two owned a money transfer agency in Brescia used to activate Voice Over Internet Protocol accounts online and to manage Hawala operations that transferred more than US$ 550,000 to Pakistan from 2006 to 2008. Italian authorities claimed the arrests confirmed the existence of a network in the northern Italian region of Lombardy that provided logistical support to international terrorism.

  • Also in November, Italian Tax Police arrested six Algerian citizens on charges of producing false identity documents. Eleven others were arrested in Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom in the same operation. According to Interior Minister Maroni, the group was also collecting funds for terrorist activities outside Italy.

Follow-ups to judicial proceedings initiated in 2008 included:

  • In May, a Milan judge dismissed all terrorism charges against Maher Bouyahia and 19 others arrested in May 2008 for alleged drug trafficking and terrorism offenses. Prosecutors continued to pursue drug charges against the group.

  • In October, a trial began in Bologna against five alleged terrorists arrested in August 2008 on charges of international terrorism. The cell allegedly sent tens of thousands of dollars to Bosnian groups linked to terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan to support suicide attacks.

  • In October, a trial began in Milan against four Moroccan citizens on terrorism charges for their plans to attack targets in and around Milan.

Domestic anarchist-inspired and extreme-left terrorist groups continued to present a moderate threat despite Italian authorities' efforts to dismantle their organizations.

  • In October, Red Brigade terrorist Massimo Papini was arrested near Salerno in connection with the 2003 killing by the Red Brigades in Bologna of Labor Ministry adviser Marco Biagi.

  • Also in October, the Revolutionary Brigades for a Combatant Communism threatened the lives of Prime Minister Berlusconi and other senior officials in a letter to a daily newspaper.

  • In December, a small explosive detonated in the underground walkways of Milan's private Bocconi University.

  • Also in December, a letter bomb was sent to a government migrant and expulsion center near Gorizia. Italy's major anarchist group, the Informal Federation of Anarchists, claimed responsibility for both incidents.

The Italian government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2005, which facilitated the detention of suspects, mandated arrest for crimes involving terrorism, and expedited procedures for expelling persons who may be involved in terrorist activities.

In March, the European Court of Human Rights prevented the expulsion of eight Tunisians for association with terrorist organizations, ruling that it would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhumane or degrading treatment even in cases of serious threat to the community. Despite the ruling, Italy expelled a number of individuals suspected of having ties to AQ, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, and Ansar al-Islam.

With respect to the financial aspects of fighting terrorism, Italy aggressively identified and blocked financial resources destined for suspected terrorist individuals and groups. The Italian government worked closely with the United States on anti-money laundering and information sharing, and cooperated with other foreign governments as an active member of the Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group. Italy also participated actively in the UNSCR 1267 process, both as a sponsor and as a co-sponsor nation.

As president and host of the 2009 G8 Summit, Italy played a leading role in the Roma-Lyon Group and the Counterterrorism Action Group, within which Italy led an initiative to enhance counterterrorism security measures in airports in the western Balkans. Italy effectively used its role as G8 host to promote counterterrorism cooperation.

Italy was an important partner in the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Container Security Initiative. In 2009, Italy appointed the Italian Customs Service to team with the U.S. Department of Energy to implement the Megaports program in Italy.

Italy participated in NATO's Active Endeavour naval mission against terrorism in the Mediterranean, and contributed to international military missions in Afghanistan, where it held Regional Command-West and offered an additional 1,000 troops and pledged 200 Carabinieri police trainers at the president's request. In Iraq, Italy played a lead role in the NATO Training Mission, among others.

Italy contributed training personnel to various regional counterterrorism training centers, such as the South East Asia Regional Centre on Counterterrorism in Malaysia, the Joint Centre on Law Enforcement Cooperation in Indonesia, and the African Union's Antiterrorism Centre in Algeria.

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