Overview: Italy aggressively investigated terrorist suspects, dismantled suspected terrorist-related cells within its borders, and maintained a high level of professional cooperation with U.S. and international partners in all areas, including Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) efforts. Terrorist and criminal activity by domestic anarchists and other violent extremists remained a threat.

On February 20, Italy adopted new counterterrorism legislation, implementing its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2178 to identify, decrease, and disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The law criminalized participation in a conflict in a foreign territory in support of a terrorist organization, and allows the government to seize suspects' passports. The law also gave the government the authority to instruct internet service providers to block access to websites identified by authorities as being used for terrorist recruitment activities, increased government authority to collect personal data related to the perpetration of terrorist crimes, and extended the scope of power of the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor – renamed the National Anti-Mafia and Corruption Prosecutor – to also pursue anti-terrorism prosecutions.

Italy has remained a leading partner in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, contributing to coalition military support, humanitarian assistance to the crises in Iraq and Syria, continuous official statements and engagement with foreign leaders – including Middle East partners – in support of the coalition, and enhanced efforts to identify, decrease, and disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Italy leads the Iraqi police training mission within the Counter ISIL Coalition and co-leads, with UAE, the Coalition Finance Working Group. Italy is the leading non-U.S. Counter ISIL troop contributor of trainers and advisors on the ground inside Iraq, and leads the international effort to train Iraqi police.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Italian government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2005 that facilitates detention of suspects, mandates arrest for crimes involving terrorism, and expedites procedures for expelling persons suspected of terrorist activities. On February 20, new legislation came into force that amended the Criminal Code with respect to fighting terrorism. On April 17, Parliament subsequently upheld the law, officially known as, Decree Law No. 7 of February 18, 2015, "Urgent Measures for the Fight against Terrorism, Including International Terrorism."

The new law's purposes are described in its preamble, which notes the urgency, in light of recent incidents abroad, to improve the existing legislative and regulatory instruments available to the Italian police and armed forces for anticipating, preventing, and combating acts of terrorism. It states that a key aspect of the new legislation is strengthening police surveillance powers and the handling of personal data.

Persons recruited by others to commit acts of terrorism are subject to an increased prison term of a minimum of three and a maximum of six years upon conviction. The legislation punishes those who organize, finance, or promote travel for the purpose of performing acts of terrorism. It also imposes punishment on lone offenders – persons found guilty of training themselves in terrorist methods on their own and carrying out terrorist acts. Penalties are increased when the acts are performed through digital or telecommunications instruments. The law punishes those who, without legal authority, introduce or provide within the national territory substances or mixtures that serve as precursors of explosives. The failure to provide notice to the authorities about the theft or disappearance of such substances or mixtures is also punishable. The bill also authorized the government to make members of the Italian armed forces qualify as agents of public security to enable them to exercise preventative police functions in connection with acts of terrorism.

The law makes it a crime to take part in a conflict in a foreign territory in support of a terrorist organization, implementing in part UNSCR 2178. During criminal proceedings, prosecuting authorities are now granted the power to temporarily withdraw suspects' passports. Such action must be communicated immediately to the General Attorney of the Republic, who must obtain validation of the measure by the president of the provincial court in the jurisdiction where the accused resides. The law also authorizes the President of the Council of Ministers, through the General Director of the Department for Security Information, to permit the directors of Italian security agencies to interview detainees for the sole purpose of acquiring information to prevent terrorist crimes of an international character.

The Ministry of the Interior is empowered under the law to maintain a list of websites that are used for terrorist recruiting activities; authorities may instruct internet service providers to immediately block access to such websites identified by the authorities. The new legislation amends the current Code for the Protection of Personal Data by extending the scope of police powers to gather personal data that is directly related to preventing the perpetration of terrorist crimes.

Italy's long history of combating both organized crime and radicalized ideological movements has given it a strong legacy in fighting internal threats to security, and authorities are leveraging those capabilities to combat terrorist recruitment, radicalization, and networking. The Police, ROS Carabinieri (gendarmerie), Guardia di Finanza, other specialized law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence services coordinate their counterterrorism efforts and meet on a regular and systematic basis. The Ministry of Interior has the authority to swiftly expel non-citizens for "seriously disturbing public order, endangering national security, or religious discrimination," even if insufficient evidence exists to prosecute the individual. The Government of Italy used this authority more than 60 times in 2015.

The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) continued to implement a Memorandum of Cooperation with the United States, allowing the Transportation Security Administration to conduct aviation security assessments at Italian commercial airports.

EU data privacy concerns prevented the United States and Italy from sharing biometric data, though Italy strongly supports the passage of an EU Passenger Name Records Directive that includes sharing data for internal EU flights.

Significant law enforcement actions included:

  • On March 18, Carabinieri arrested a Pakistani, Ahmed Riaz, accused of having ties with terrorist networks in Brescia. The Minister of Interior ordered Riaz to be expelled, which followed the Interior Ministry's previous expulsion order against Riaz in February due to a Carabinieri request.

  • On March 27, Abdel Mounime Halda, a 33-year-old Moroccan citizen, resident in Italy, who was an Imam in Capannori, a small town near Lucca, was expelled for using radical and contemptuous speech against the West in his sermons at a local prayer center. Although the Imam's home was searched, and nothing deemed relevant to any ongoing investigation was found, the Interior Ministry maintained that the Imam constituted a threat to the security of the state.

  • On April 4, Khalid Smina, a Moroccan citizen resident in Imola, in the province of Bologna, was expelled from Italy on charges of having allegedly joined the network of Jarraya Khalil, a Tunisian national arrested in 2008 in Bologna for affiliation with Islamic terrorist networks.

  • On April 21, Yahar Ahmed, a 27-year-old Pakistani resident in Prato, was expelled from Italy. He worked as a porter for a shipping company in Calenzano, in the Florence area. The expulsion order referred to suspicious activities and having acquaintances linked to Islamic terrorism.

  • On April 22, police detained Noussair Louati, a Tunisian national living in Ravenna, who had been under investigation. Louati planned to move to Syria after a first failed attempt to reach the Middle East to join ISIL. Louati also posted messages in favor of jihad on his Facebook profile and claimed that he had been thrown out of a Milan mosque by the local Imam because he asked him for help in obtaining a flight ticket to reach Syria and join ISIL.

  • On April 30, the Court of Cassation upheld the conviction of Alfredo Cospito and Nicola Gai for the 2012 domestic terrorist attack against Roberto Adinolfi, chief executive officer of the nuclear engineering company, Ansaldo, who had been knee-capped. The sentences were reduced, respectively, to nine years, five months, and 10 days and eight years, six months, and 20 days in prison. The Informal Anarchist Federation (IAF) claimed responsibility for the incident.

  • On October 4, Italian authorities caught Ben Nasr Mehdi, a Tunisian who was first arrested in Italy in 2007 and sentenced to seven years in prison for plotting terrorist attacks with an Islamic State-linked group, trying to re-enter the country in Sicily (Lampedusa) on a migrant vessel. He was expelled from Italy 10 days later. He was identified by a biometric match after he filed for refugee status using a false identity.

  • On October 8, the Court of Cassation confirmed the conviction of an Egyptian, Abu Omar, in absentia to six years in prison for international terrorism. Abu Omar was Imam of a Milan mosque in 2000 when he established a terrorist organization with the aim to conduct terrorist attacks in Italy and abroad.

  • On October 27, a Bari Court of Appeal sentenced Hosni Hachemi Ben Hassem, former imam of Andria, along with Faez Elkhaldey, Ifauoi Nour, Khairredine Romdhane, Ben Chedli, and Chamari Hamdi to prison terms of between five years, two months and two years, eight months for having founded a subversive association supporting Islamic international terrorism.

  • On November 16, Milan prosecutors requested the indictment of 11 persons charged with international terrorism and the organization of travel to join fighters abroad. Among them there was an Italian woman, Maria Giulia Sergio, who moved to Syria; her Albanian husband, Aldo Said Kobuzi; her parents, Sergio and Assunta Buonfiglio; her sister, Marianna Sergio; her mother in law, Donika Coku; and two uncles of her husband. Investigators believe that she received training to conduct suicide attacks.

  • On November 23, the Ministry of Interior expelled four Moroccans, long-term residents of Bologna suspected of promoting jihadism. They had been found sharing messages and files regarding the training of foreign terrorist fighters, radical ideology, and use of weapons.

  • On November 24, authorities announced the expulsion of a Tunisian man living in Brianza. The man was wiretapped expressing hatred against the West and possibly intended to carry out a terrorist attack.

  • On December 1, police disrupted a cell of terrorists from Kosovo in Brescia, arresting three of them in Lombardy (a fourth was arrested in Kosovo). The group had posted photos of themselves with weapons and videos containing terrorist propaganda and threats against the Pope.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Italy is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a FATF-style regional body (FSRB). Italy also holds observer status within the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, an FSRB. Italy's financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Italy also implemented the UN 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime in 2015.

Decree Law No. 7 of February 18, 2015, discussed above, provides for a sentence of five to eight years for those found guilty of organizing, financing, or advocating travel abroad for the purposes of carrying out terrorist acts. It also seeks to ensure greater communication on such cases between financial institutions, law enforcement, and the judicial system. The Italian judiciary and financial police (Guardia di Finanza) continued to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and organizations and to prosecute terrorism financing cases. In addition, Italy carried out several counterterrorism operations and prevented international money transfers to terrorist groups. Italy co-leads, with the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Counter-ISIL Coalition Finance Working Group. Judicial and law enforcement efforts to combat terrorism financing include monitoring financial transactions (including financial services companies specializing in wire transfers), bank transfers, pre-paid electronic cards, payments on fraudulent invoices, and cash-in-transit. In the first three quarters of 2015, a total of 74 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) were filed due to concerns that the funds would be used to finance terrorism (compared to 93 STRs for all of 2014). In 2015, Italy was among the first countries to undergo a mutual evaluation of the level of effectiveness of its AML/CFT system and its level of compliance with the FATF Recommendations. This evaluation was conducted by the IMF and had not been published by the end of 2015.

Italy does not require that non-profit organizations send suspicious transaction reports. However, reporting entities are required to consider the specific money laundering and terrorism financing risks when entering in a relationship or carrying out transactions that involve non-profit organizations.

The Italian financial intelligence unit at the Bank of Italy publishes the UN, EU, and OFAC designations lists and any subsequent amendments on its website.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Countering Violent Extremism: Italy has a long history of countering organized crime and radical ideological movements. Italy's toolkit includes an anti-radicalization program in its prison system. The Ministry of Justice reported the establishment of informal places of worship in 52 prisons where approximately 190 imams were active. Monitoring of detainees at risk of radicalization was enhanced after the November 13 Paris attacks. Twenty cultural mediators and 60 volunteers conducted de-radicalization initiatives within prisons.

To the extent domestic recruitment of violent Islamist extremists occurred, it appeared largely concentrated in the more industrialized North and Tuscany, though there were unconfirmed media reports of some alleged foreign terrorist fighters emerging from Rome and Naples. The government has sought to address this vulnerability with its recent announcement that every euro of increased defense spending to protect Italy from terrorism would be matched by a euro of "cultural" spending, primarily focused on improving education and social conditions in underdeveloped areas and peripheral neighborhoods.

The government has been a committed participant in the White House Initiative to Combat Violent Extremism, which included hosting a CVE senior officials' meeting in Rome in July.

International and Regional Cooperation: Italy is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and actively participates in the GCTF's work. It is also a founding member of the Institute for International Justice and the Rule of Law and is a member of its governing board. Italy supported counterterrorism efforts through the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group, the OSCE, NATO, the UN, the Council of Europe, and the EU. As noted, Italy supports the swift passage of the EU Passenger Name Record Directive. Italy also promoted EUROPOL as a venue for EU-level coordination of law enforcement and intelligence cooperation across national borders. Italy is particularly active in international efforts to prevent and to condemn the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria by ISIL, whether such destruction is incidental or deliberate, including targeted destruction of religious sites and objects.


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