Tag Archives: isis

How combating the mafia helped Italy fight ISIS:

How combating the mafia helped Italy fight ISIS:  Surveillance techniques and the help of organised crime are keeping extremists at bay, claim experts

  • Marco Lombardi believes Italian authorities are applying same methods to tackling terrorism as organised crime
  • He also told The Times that the mafia does not want ISIS operating in Italy
  • Berlin truck terrrorist Anis Amri was yesterday gunned down in Milan
  • It is not yet clear why he had travelled to Italy after Monday’s atrocity 

 

Italy’s battle against the mafia could be helping authorities tackle extremists – and organised criminals could be keeping ISIS at bay, it is claimed.

Yesterday Berlin truck killer Anis Amri was shot dead after opening fire on two police officers at around 3am in Milan.

When he was approached in the Sesto San Giovanni suburb, the officers had no idea they were dealing with Europe’s most wanted man.

Yesterday Marco Lombardi, a terrorism expert at the Catholic University in Milan, told The Times: ‘It’s no surprise that a new police unit has recently been formed in Italy which fights both the mafia and terrorism, bringing together officers who share surveillance techniques.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4063764/How-combating-mafia-helped-Italy-fight-ISIS-Surveillance-techniques-help-organised-crime-keeping-extremists-bay-claim-experts.html#ixzz4UI1vndo6
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FBI arrests Brooklyn Uber driver who joined ISIS in hopes of planning Nice-style terror attack in Times Square

An Uber cab driver from Brooklyn was arrested Monday on federal charges that he allegedly traveled to Turkey and Yemen last year to join ISIS and expressed support for a Nice-style attack with a garbage truck in Times Square, authorities said.

Mohamed Rafik Naji, 37, revealed his support of the terrorist organization on his Facebook page, including a photo of an ISIS flag, videos of jihadists engaged in fighting, and a YouTube link of an ISIS spokesman exhorting attacks on Western targets, according to court papers.

Last summer, Naji allegedly expressed support to an informant for carrying out a deadly attack in Times Square with a garbage truck crushing pedestrian just like the ISIS truck attack in Nice, France in July.

“They (ISIS) want an operation in Times Square,” Naji told the informant on July 19.

Read Full Article – http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/fbi-arrests-brooklyn-man-joined-isis-hoped-attack-nyc-article-1.2882425

Italian Newspaper Claims Mafia Is Trading Weapons with ISIS for Stolen Libyan Artifacts

The Italian newspaper La Stampa claims the Camorra and ‘Ndràngheta mafia groups in southern Italy are giving weapons to the terrorist organization ISIS in exchange for rare cultural artifacts stolen from Libya, writes Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper.

The weapons are being smuggled into Italy from Ukraine and Moldova by Russian criminals. The artifacts––taken from Sabratha, Cyrene, and Leptis Magna in Libya, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites—are being shipped from the Libyan city Sirte, a former ISIS presidio, to Gioia Tauro in Calabria, a port that ‘Ndràngheta members have used for pumping cocaine into Europe.

La Stampa journalist Domenico Quirico posed as an antiquities dealer to infiltrate ‘Ndràngheta-controlled trade around Naples. He was offered a carved head from what seemed to be a second-century Roman statue for nearly $66,000 and saw pictures of a Greek god figure available for about $1.1 million. Objects from Italian necropolises were also being sold. The clientele for the mafia groups appear to be located in China, Japan, Russia, and the UAE.

Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, said in a recent interview, “The criminal turnover of the so-called Islamic state comes from a series of factors, including the sale of works of art that have escaped the iconoclastic fury of the militants.” But Syria’s antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, told the Art Newspaper that seventy percent of the artifacts taken from anti-smuggling operations in Lebanon and Syria have proven to be inauthentic.

From – http://artforum.com/news/id=64056

The Italian Mafia is Funding Terrorism By Buying Smuggled Hash From ISIS

Italian prosecutor claims that the Italian Mafia is buying hash that was smuggled by ISIS through Libya.

The Italian Mafia and an Islamic terrorist group meet up at a hash-smuggling operation… It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but unfortunately, according to the anti-Mafia and antiterrorism prosecutor, Franco Roberti, it’s the grim reality in the country of Italy. The Italian prosecutor claims that hash is being purchased by the Italian Mafia from Libya, which is being smuggled in by the Islamic terrorist sect ISIS.

The North African hash is being used a major source of income for the Islamic State, and the Italian Mafia is apparently a loyal customer. It’s quite profitable for the Mafia as well, which earns about 32 billion euros ($36.10 billion) a year through their illegal drug trades, a sizable portion of which is made up of hash and cannabis. It’s seems reasonable for Roberti to assume that ISIS is heavily involved. According to Ahmad Moussalli, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut, territorial expansion by ISIS on the Syrian border has put them in control of a vast amount of cannabis fields.

Instead of trying to crack down even more viciously on Italy’s use of cannabis and hash, which the government already spends millions on combating, Roberti has come forth with a much more level-headed approach. Instead, the prosecutor believes that the time has come for Italy to rescind their harsh marijuana laws, citing that decriminalization would negatively affect both the Mafia and the Islamic State.

The decriminalization of marijuana in Italy could help land a potentially critical blow to the funding of ISIS, which according to a recently published IHS Conflict Monitor report, has already dropped from $80 million in monthly revenue to $56 million since the middle of 2015. According to Roberti, a major portion of the terrorist cell’s revenue comes from drug trafficking, and decriminalization of marijuana in Italy could help put a major dent in that.

To Roberti, it makes sense to persecute the Mafia and the Islamic State in a similar manner, seeing as that Italian Mafia families, particularly in the south, have been long proponents of terrorist activities. The Mafia and ISIS could be more intertwined than it would seem at first glance, as both are heavily dependent on drug trafficking as a revenue source. But does Roberti have a sound argument for decriminalization? I would have to argue that he does.

“We spend a lot of resources uselessly. We have not succeeded in reducing cannabinoid trafficking. On the contrary, it’s increasing,” said Roberti. “Is it worth using investigative energy to fight street sales of soft drugs?”

Full Article – https://www.merryjane.com/news/the-italian-mafia-is-funding-terrorism-by-buying-smuggled-hash-from-isis

The Mafia Runs Guns for ISIS in Europe

The mobsters have the weapons, and they’re making a killing selling them off to Islamic radicals.

CASTEL VOLTURNO, Italy — By the time Aziz Ehsan, a 46-year-old Iraqi, was arrested near Naples on Tuesday, local anti-mafia police had already been trailing him for days to determine just why he was in the heartland of the Camorra crime syndicate’s territory. He was well known by both the French and Belgian secret services, which list him as a suspected ISIS contact. The Neapolitan cops were also aware of an international arrest warrant for him in Switzerland, where he was wanted in connection with a variety of offenses, including forgery, assault, and possession of illegal weapons.

He was apparently just the type of person Italian authorities thought might provide a valuable clue as they work to piece together the details of the complex relationshipbetween Jihadist fighters and Italy’s various mobs.

But when the attacks took place in Brussels, the authorities decided it was time to move in and get him. He was arrested as he slept in a car with Italian license plates registered to a deceased man on Tuesday and is awaiting extradition to Switzerland, France, or Belgium.

He claimed that he was in the area to scout out luxury hotels for rich Iraqi tourists, but the police didn’t buy it; he appeared to have been living in the car for days. They also pointed to an absence of notebooks, a laptop, or tablet—items you’d think to bring on a research trip. His no-frills, no contract “burner” cellphone, like the kind favored by Western jihadis, was another sign that Ehsan wasn’t in the region to see which five-star hotels offered the best glass of Limoncello.

“We executed a European arrest warrant near Naples and arrested an Iraqi citizen known to the Belgian and French secret service,” Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano declared after his arrest. “He was in contact with terrorists.”

Ehsan’s presence in Italy very likely posed no imminent threat to anyone in this country, but it may be extremely significant in Europe’s losing battle against ISIS-motivated terrorism. Authorities now want to know if Ehsan was here on business, especially if he was working with the Camorra to secure false documents or illegal arms—both big moneymakers for the Neapolitan clans.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism officials have been unraveling long-standing connections between Jihadi fighters and the Camorra in Naples. They have also uncovered ties to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra Mafia and the Calabrese ‘Ndrangheta gang, tracing weapons being trafficked in from the former Yugoslavia and several African nations which allegedly arrive easily in Neapolitan ports.

Italian anti-mafia police have made three major arrests in the last 12 months, during which they have confiscated major weapons arsenals that included Kalashnikov rifles, submachine guns, body armor, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that were ready to be sold to terrorist connections. They even found a price list for a wide variety of weapons available for prices ranging from €250 to €3,000 that was printed in Arabic, French, and Italian.

“Naples has been, for many years, a central logistics base for the Middle East. The Camorra is also active in the world of Jihadist terrorism that passes through Naples,” Franco Roberti, a prominent anti-mafia prosecutor, told The Daily Beast before the Brussels attacks. “Naples lends itself to this type of activity. In the past there have been contacts between Jihadi militants and the Camorra clans.”

He says that Italy’s mafia-fighting forces have “thwarted plots and synergies” between the terrorists and the mobsters. What’s not known, of course, is how many plots they’ve missed.

It is certainly a well-known fact that the Camorra runs a highly successful enterprise in the lawless Neapolitan hinterland running drugs, illegal arms and forged documents that make it especially easy for anyone entering Europe illegally to pass through even the tightest borders. It is just as well-known that the main client base has never been strictly Italian.

“We have evidence that groups of the Camorra are implicated in an exchange of weapons for drugs with terrorist groups,” Pierluigi Vigna, Italy’s national anti-mafia prosecutor, said before he passed away in 2012.

Vigna’s words were quoted in a variety of Wikileaks cables that imply that the United States government has been well aware of the terrorist-mafia connection for some time. “Criminal interaction between Italian organized crime and Islamic extremist groups provides potential terrorists with access to funding and logistical support from criminal organizations with established smuggling routes and an entrenched presence in the United States,” according to one cable on Italy penned by the FBI.

Investigators say logistics help in moving Jihadi fighters through Europe is one of the hardest rackets to crack. Last summer, Salah Abdeslam, who, until last week, was the most wanted man in Europe for his role in the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, traveled freely through Italy with the help of a network of what could be referred to as mafia-sponsored terrorism travel agents.

Authorities in Italy say he boarded a ferry in Bari headed for Greece last August, and that he used a pre-paid Italian debit card until the Paris attacks. Authorities say he used his real name tied to fake Italian documents in both instances.

The idea of Europe’s most wanted man running free is concerning enough. But what is at least as worrying is that the weapons being trafficked into Italy will end up being used in European capitals. Michele del Prete, an Italian counter-terrorism official who has been focusing on the links between organized crime and violent jihadists, warns that the two forces of evil have found a comfortable partnership. “It is established and proven that the lawless climate in Naples has often created favorable conditions for logistical support, exchange of weapons, and false documents,” he said. “There are specialized groups we have tracked in various municipalities and prefectures that we know are facilitating terrorism.”

Investigator Roberti takes it a step further. “Campania, especially the province of Caserta and Castel Volturno, is one of the main gateways into Europe for those who want to become a terrorist,” he said. “It has been demonstrated by numerous investigations. On this now, there are no doubts.”

Read Full Article – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/24/inside-the-mafia-isis-connection.html