‘I was going to Turkey to pray’, suspected jihadist tells police

A 25-year-old man has been arrested in the Calabrian city of Cosenza as part of Italy’s anti-terrorism sweep.

'I was going to Turkey to pray', suspected jihadist tells police
The man was arrested in Cosenza as part of Italy's anti-terror sweep. Police: Raffale Esposito

The man, who had an Italian residency permit but is of Moroccan origin, was allegedly preparing to carry out terrorist attacks, the Cosenza unit of Italy’s anti-terror squad, Digos, said in a statement on Monday.

He had been under surveillance since July, when he returned to Italy after being refused entry into Turkey as authorities there suspected he was planning to travel on to Syria to join Isis militants, the police added.

The street vendor denied being an Isis member, telling police he was going to Turkey “to pray”.

The man, who was arrested early on Monday, was allegedly training himself to carry out terrorist attacks.

Manuals for training terrorists were found in his home in Luzzi, a town in Cosenza province. 

The young Moroccan had been living in Luzzi with his parents and four brothers since 2006.




Italy expels Tunisian tied to Berlin Christmas market attack

Italy's interior ministry said on Saturday it had expelled a Tunisian national linked to the man who carried out a deadly 2016 attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Italy expels Tunisian tied to Berlin Christmas market attack
The aftermath of the Berlin Christmas Market attack. Image: DPA

Montassar Yaakoubi, described by the ministry as “an associate of the Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri,” was flown to Tunisia on a special flight, the ministry said in a statement, without specifying when.

It was Italy's first such expulsion of a foreign national on state security grounds since such repatriations were suspended due to the coronavirus emergency, it said.

READ: Berlin remembers victims of Christmas market attack

Yaakoubi hosted Amri in Italy before the latter's move to Germany in 2015, the ministry said.

On December 19, 2016, Amri — a rejected asylum seeker from Tunisia and known radical jihadist — hijacked a truck, ploughing into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin and killing 12 people.

Amri, 24, managed to flee Germany after the attack but was shot in Milan by police four days later. In the past five years, Italy has expelled 482 foreign nationals on security grounds, including 21 in 2020.