Overview: Italy aggressively investigated and prosecuted terrorist suspects and dismantled suspected terrorist-related cells within its borders. It also implemented counterterrorism legislation adopted in 2015 aimed at identifying, decreasing, and disrupting the recruitment and flow of foreign terrorist fighters. Criminal and low-level terrorist acts (incendiary devices and small improvised explosive devices by domestic anarchist groups remained a threat. Italy maintained a high level of professional cooperation with the United States and international partners in all areas, including terrorist information sharing and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS efforts.

Italy was an important Defeat-ISIS Coalition partner. Italy maintained the second-largest number of troops deployed to Iraq, leading the Coalition's efforts to train Iraqi police and security forces. Approximately 500 Italian troops provided site security for workers with Italian engineering firm Trevi, engaged in critical repair work on the Mosul Dam. Italy also contributed aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and re-fueling capabilities from Kuwait in support of the Coalition. Italy continued to co-chair the Coalition's Counter-ISIS Finance Group with the United States and Saudi Arabia to enhance information sharing and develop coordinated countermeasures to disrupt ISIS financing.

2016 Terrorist Incidents:

  • On June 7, the European Food Safety Authority in Parma received a package with explosive material, which a local bomb squad destroyed. According to police, the package contained a small amount of a powdered explosive material that was enough to maim.

  • On November 27, an explosion of two gas canisters in front of a Carabinieri police station in Bologna led to the December 10 arrest of a French anarchist, Cedric René Michel Tatoueix. Investigators suspect the attack was perpetrated by three anarchist groups active in the Bologna area.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Italian government made use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation enacted in 2015 that improved the existing legislative and regulatory instruments available to the Italian police and armed forces for anticipating, preventing, and countering acts of terrorism. Italy also continued to make use of 2005 legislation that facilitated the detention of terrorist suspects and expedited procedures for expelling non-citizens suspected of endangering national security. In 2016, Italy appointed a Coordinator of the Office of Anti-Terrorism Investigation, a new coordination position created inside the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate, which was established under the 2015 counterterrorism law.

Italian law enforcement remained advanced in its capacity to detect and deter terrorist activity, links, and associations within Italy. Italy's long history of countering both organized crime and radical ideological movements has given it a strong legacy in fighting internal threats to security. Authorities are leveraging those capabilities to counter terrorist recruitment, radicalization to violence, and networking. The police (specifically the Central Directorate of the Prevention Police, or DCPP), ROS Carabinieri (the investigative unit of the gendarmerie), Guardia di Finanza (financial police), other specialized law enforcement agencies, and the intelligence services coordinate their counterterrorism efforts and meet on a regular and systematic basis to review terrorist threats and share information. The Minister 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. Italy used this authority to expel more than 60 individuals in 2016.

Among other provisions, Italy's 2015 counterterrorism law criminalized the organization, financing, or promotion of travel for the purpose of performing acts of terrorism and made it a crime to take part in a conflict in a foreign territory in support of a terrorist organization, implementing UN Security Council resolution 2178. Italy maintained its readiness to enhance measures quickly to counter threats against civil aviation. The MOI worked with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to enhance local implementing procedures covering the Federal Air Marshal (FAM) program.

Italy strongly supported the passage of a European Union (EU) Passenger Name Records (PNR) Directive. Parliament in November 2016 adopted a "delegated law" on the PNR directive; the government is drafting the implementing decree laws. Italy also consulted U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding development of a Passenger Information Unit and the use of the U.S. Automated Targeting System-Global (ATS-G) for screening passengers using API and PNR data under the EU PNR Directive.

Italy received approximately 180,000 asylum-seekers and economic migrants in 2016, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. According to MOI and international organization contacts, Italian authorities successfully screened more than 90 percent of new arrivals against the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) and the Italian Investigation System (SDI), which feed into the Schengen Information System and the Italian Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) databank. These databases, in turn, feed into the European Dactyloscopy (EURODAC) database.

Significant law enforcement actions included:

  • On August 13, the Interior Minister expelled Hosni Hachemi Ben Hassen, a Tunisian imam of the Andria mosque, arrested in April 2013 together with four other Tunisians suspected of being members of an Islamist terrorist cell. The expulsion occurred after the Court of Cassation cleared Ben Hassen of international terrorism charges (while upholding his hate crimes conviction). According to Italian authorities, between 2008 and 2010, Ben Hassen's group had collected instructions on how to construct explosive devices, received training on the use of firearms, and tried to recruit and indoctrinate foreign terrorist fighters to send abroad.

  • On December 19, a Milan court convicted in absentia Maria Giulia 'Fatima' Sergio, an Italian who left for Syria to fight for ISIS in 2014, to nine years in prison for international terrorism. Authorities believe Sergio is still in Syria with her Albanian husband, Aldo Kobuzi, who was sentenced to 10 years as part of the same ruling. The court also sentenced Canadian national Bushra Haik – who grew up in Bologna – to nine years in prison for recruiting and indoctrinating Sergio, and sentenced Sergio's father, Sergio Sergio – arrested in Italy in July 2015 as he and his wife Assunta (who died three months later) attempted to leave Italy for Syria – to four years in prison for the crime of organizing terrorist travel. The court's in-absentia conviction of Haik, Kobuzi, and Sergio was the first by an Italian court under Italy's 2015 counterterrorism law of foreign terrorist fighters in an overseas combat zone.

  • On December 23 around 3:00 a.m. local time during a spot check outside of Milan's Sesto San Giovanni train station, Milan police shot dead Tunisian terrorist suspect Anis Amri, allegedly responsible for the December 19 attack on a Berlin Christmas market. When asked for his documents, Amri reportedly pulled out a gun and shot at an officer, hitting him in the shoulder (the officer survived). Agents then fired back, killing the suspect.

In 2016, Italy did not have the infrastructure to screen all international seaport arrivals, although it heightened security on maritime routes. Italy has the infrastructure to screen all international airport arrivals, including against the INTERPOL Lost and Stolen Travel Document Database, but authorities do not always do so in practice.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Italy is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is an observer in the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), a FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit for Italy is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Italy co-chairs, with the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Coalition's Counter-ISIS Finance Group, a group of 36 states and multilateral bodies created in 2015 to enhance information sharing and coordinate countermeasures to disrupt ISIS financing.

Italy's 2016 FATF evaluation assesses the legal framework to counter the financing of terrorism to be mature and sophisticated, noting some shortcomings in financial sector oversight. Italy's government criminalizes terrorist financing in accordance with international standards, monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services, and requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. Italy does not require non-profit organizations to submit suspicious transaction reports. Nonetheless, reporting entities are required to consider the specific money laundering and terrorist financing risks when entering into a relationship or carrying out transactions that involve non-profit organizations.

Italy's 2015 counterterrorism law 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 Guardia di Finanza continued to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and organizations and to prosecute terrorist financing cases. Pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1267, Italy has frozen to date approximately US $110,000 in assets in relation to 53 transactions/accounts and 38 persons/entities, through counterterrorist financing sanctions. In addition, Italy carried out several counterterrorist finance operations and prevented international money transfers to terrorist groups.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 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. The Ministry of Justice's Prison Police continued counter-radicalization programs initiated in 2015 that included places of worship and providing cultural mediators within prisons. In August 2016, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced that 345 inmates were under active monitoring, of which only 39 had been convicted or charged with terrorist crimes. According to the MOJ, in addition to the inmates already convicted of or charged with terrorist crimes, 114 monitored inmates were considered at "high risk" of radicalization to violence and 99 had demonstrated "appreciation" for the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, Dhaka, and Paris. The government has not published a formal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Action Plan, but established a commission in September 2016 to study radicalization to violence and extremism, with the objective of recommending preventative measures in 2017.

To counter terrorist propaganda quickly, Italy has the capacity to swiftly expel non-citizen residents espousing extremist sentiments. While radicalization to violence and recruitment to terrorist violence has not been widespread in Italy, some religious groups promote a radical interpretation of their faith, which, along with deteriorated economic conditions in the peripheral neighborhoods of Italy's largest cities, limits integration and potentially could contribute to future radicalization to violence.

Regional and International Cooperation: Italy is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and actively participates in its work, including the Hedayah Center. Italy also supported counterterrorism efforts through the G-7 Roma-Lyon Group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations, and the EU. Italy leads the Iraqi police training mission within the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and co-leads, with Saudi Arabia and the United States, the Coalition's Counter-ISIS Finance Group. Italy was an active participant in White House CVE Summit-related activities, and the city of Palermo serves on the Strong Cities Network steering committee and participates in two of the network's working groups: Group 1 on Counter-Narratives and Local Communications, and Group 2 on Refugees and Internal Displacement.


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