Italy steps up security after Isis threats

Italy has stepped up security following threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) jihadist group, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has said.

Italy steps up security after Isis threats
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Italy must not "disregard any sign of danger". Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

The threat posed by the extremist group is equal to that of terrorist organization al-Qaeda after the September 11th attacks against the US in 2001, the interior minister said.

“The most recent statements from the Islamic State [Isis], declaring threats against Italy and Rome, make it essential to raise the security level,” he was quoted in Rai News as saying.

Ongoing bombing raids against Isis positions in Iraq and Syria led by the US, with political support from Italy, “could trigger a reaction”, Alfano stated.

SEE ALSO: Italy stands firm in support of Isis coalition

The security risk posed by Isis is now “comparable only to that of al-Qaeda after September 11th,” he added.

Over the past four months around 20 government warnings have been issued regarding possible threats against Italy from Isis, although Alfano said such threats were limited in their development.

“The result of investigations do not point to the existence of the specific ability to plan attacks against targets in our national territory, or the interests of our country abroad.”

Still, the government must not “disregard any sign of danger” and was continuing to monitor jihadist networks, he added.

Italy’s intelligence services have been paying particular attention to the online sphere, where aspiring militants can be recruited and incited to violence. 

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Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian civil war has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.

Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes
The Venice film festival ends on Saturday. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
“Still Recording”, a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervour of the Syrian revolution. It picked up two awards at Venice Critics' Week.
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio. There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
“We started doing this because there wasn't, and still isn't, an efficient working media in Syria because it's not allowed to enter and if it is, it's under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn't revolution… it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you. Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that.”
The win comes as the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are preparing to launch an assault on Idlib, the northern province that is the last major stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad for the past seven years.
Al Batal said the situation in Syria “is more dangerous than ever now” because the Russian military are more ruthless than Assad's badly trained soldiers.
“They know where to hit, and how to hit hard,” said Al Batal, who said the “media army behind them” was the same.