Italy arrest ISIS-sympathetic Somali asylum seeker planning terror attack

Italy’s anti-terror police have arrested a Somalian migrant who plotted to carry out a terrorist attack in Rome. The 22-year-old was held at a refugee reception centre in the town of Campomarino, central Italy, at the end of a two-month investigation.

Prosecutors said they have clear evidence suggesting the terrorist, described as an imam, planned to target the capital’s main train station. He also allegedly attempted to recruit to jihad fellow asylum seekers housed at the recently-opened Happy Family centre, exploiting his role as religious leader within the small community.

Detectives said that after the religious services he often intoned a prayer for ISIS terrorists killed in fighting.

Hidden cameras captured him praising ISIS as well as al-Qaeda and the Somalia-based al-Shabaab, and showing propaganda videos released by the jihadi groups to other guests of the reception centre. In a taped conversation, the suspect was heard exalting the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. Envisaging a similar attack in Rome, he claimed to prefer a suicide bombing to a gun rampage.

“We go to Rome and start from the train station,” he was recorded as saying. “There is an easier way, get the equipment and blow ourselves up.”

Prosecutor Armando D’Alterio, who led the investigation, said the man was “mobilising” to follow through with his criminal intent but there was no evidence he was ready to execute it, as it appeared he hadn’t yet acquired weapons or explosives.