‘500 young inmates risk being radicalized in Italian jails’

Italy's chief anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor has warned that hundreds of minors in prisons for young offenders are at risk of being radicalized by extremists.

'500 young inmates risk being radicalized in Italian jails'
Franco Roberti, Italy's chief anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Franco Roberti warned that unless Italy acts now, the country “will find itself in the same situation as Brussels or the Parisian suburbs”.

In an interview with La Repubblica, he said that 500 young Muslims in Italy’s juvenile prisons risk becoming jihadists.

“It’s an alarming figure that I was given a few days ago: half of the young offenders in Italian prisons are Muslim,” he said.

“Like all of their peers, they are used to spending all their time on the internet, where they can easily make contact with sites that preach jihad: they are at a high risk of radicalization.”

Roberti said that Italy downplayed the threat of jihadism when compared to France and Belgium.

“We believe the danger is inferior,” he added.

“It’s probably true that the Muslim community in our country is different – the second generation are still adolescents. But if we don’t act quickly then over the next five to ten years we’ll be in the same situation as Brussels or the Paris suburbs.

“We already have the growing threat of young people leaving Italy to go and fight in Syria, more than we’re aware of. It’s a phenomenon that we’re trying to stop.”

Roberti also dismissed the theory that Italy’s mafia organizations could deter terrorist groups.

“It’s not true – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. The mafia and terrorists have always played the same game.”  


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.