Italian researcher held on terror charges

Italian researcher held on terror charges
A 45-year-old university researcher in Palermo has been arrested on terror charges. Photo: Polizia dello Stato
Italian police said on Wednesday they had detained a researcher working at the University of Palermo on terror charges.

45-year-old Libyan researcher, Khadgia Shabbi, had been working at the university's economics department for the last three years while living in the city.

She is alleged to have been in contact with foreign Isis fighters and to have worked to produce online propaganda for al-Qaeda during that time, Italian daily Gazetta del Sud reports.

Shabbi was not employed directly by the university but received €2,000 a month from the Libyan embassy while carrying out research at the department.

Police chiefs said they had been monitoring the woman for months and had discovered contacts allegedly linking her to extremist fighters in Belgium and the UK.

They also found that her contacts included terrorists who planned the 2012 bombing of the US embassy in Libya.

It was reported that Shabbi had been working to help her extremist cousin enter Italy until he died in a gun battle earlier this year.

The investigating magistrate rejected the prosecution's request that the woman be detained in prison before her trial, but has placed her under curfew, meaning she won't be allowed to leave home in the evening.

She is not considered to be a flight risk.