Italian couple arrested for sending weapons to Isis

Italian police on Tuesday arrested a married couple on suspicion of sending weapons to a faction of terrorist group Isis.

Italian couple arrested for sending weapons to Isis
Police officers escort the couple into a police car. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Police believe the pair sent weapons including assault rifles, surface-to-air missiles and even helicopters to Iran and Libya between 2011 and 2015, despite an embargo. The couple in their 60's have been named as Annamaria Fontana and Mario Di Leva – known as Jafaar since their conversion to Islam, according to local paper Napoli Today.

Their son and the CEO of the Italian Helicopters Society were also reportedly arrested in connection with the weapons trafficking.

Fontana was well-known locally as a politician, having served two terms as a socialist councillor in San Giorgio a Cremano, Campania, in the 80's and 90's. 

In recent years she had moved away from politics and begun to visit the Middle East regularly with her husband, Il Corriere del Mezzogiorno reported, building up close ties with the Libyan government and meeting Iran's former premier.

The arrests were made following a nationwide operation coordinated by Italy's anti-mafia police department in Naple. Police had launched the investigation in 2011, following leads from an investigation into the Camorra mafia clan.



New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.