From Syria to Sardinia, the red thread of jihad

From Syria to Sardinia, the red thread of jihad


By Souad Sbai

Now Italy will also have to face the problem of the jihadists returning from Syria, since Trump has asked the European countries, their home countries, to take them back. In the case of Italy, the terrorists ready to return are only three; not hundreds, as in Germany or in the United Kingdom, but they are also a problem, as evidenced by the rebellion that took place in the prison of Bancali, in Sassari, Sardinia.

US President Trump’s tweet about the more than 800 prisoners (men and women) who are part of ISIS and who are currently protected by the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, has put several European countries in trouble. Germany and Great Britain stand out,, that do not seem willing to  open the doors of their penitentiary centers to the so-called “returnees”, the foreign fighters returning from abroad. Instead, France immediately responded to the White House’s request by announcing the repatriation of 130 terrorists and their families.

London and Berlin are afraid of the management of the “returnees” because they could indoctrinate and recruit other people in prison, attracting them to the network of the Muslim Brotherhood, always ready to welcome new followers. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, also cited the absence of a clear legal framework that allows to judge the “foreign fighters” in a German court. It remains to be seen how effective is the threat issued by Trump to free them to induce Germany and Britain to take responsibility in the territory of departure.

Italy has also been called to collaborate, but less worrying, from today, taking into account that the jihadists in question are three and not hundreds as in Germany and Great Britain: a man, Samir Bougana, and two women, of whom only the name of one has been revealed, Meriem Rehaily, wife of an ISIS militant with whom he has two children. The government has not yet expressed what measures it will take, no matter the voices opposing their return, especially with regard to the young Samir. Interviewed by La Stampa, Samir admitted that he was a terrorist, who was radicalized mainly through the Internet, but now he would like to return to Italy to lead a normal life as if nothing had happened.

The question of “returnees” concerns hundreds of “foreign fighters” also detained in Iraq and not only in Syria. The most immediate reaction is not to grant such subjects the luxury of a fair trial or the luxury of serving their sentence in Italian or European prisons, even if they are maximum security prisons, leaving them in the hands of those who captured them. On the other hand, both the Kurds in Syria and the Iraqi security forces have objective difficulties in maintaining permanent custody of “foreign fighters” and, therefore, the American request is justified, also taking into account the current political impassibility of an agreement with the Syrian government to assume responsibility for the detention of terrorists.

Although in an undoubtedly different and much less problematic context than the Syrian-Iraqi theater, the concern of Great Britain and Germany linked to the detention of the “returnees” is justified. In fact, they are young people who will not be able to be really de-radicalized and, therefore, it would be necessary to keep track of these young people even after they have served their sentences (for Samir, Meriem and the other woman we talk about a prison sentence of approximately 10 years: too little?). Italy knows well the meaning of managing the imprisonment of jihadist extremists. A meaning that is well known by the prison officers, responsible for over 240 people, divided into the detention centers of Bancali, Nuoro, Rossano Calabro (Cosenza) and Asti. The most disturbing news continues to come from Bancali after a radicalized detainee wounded an agent only a few days ago.

The progressive and already denounced dismantling of security policies in the prison, in the name of “dynamic vigilance” and “open prison regime”, has made the conditions in which the prison officers are doing their job even more difficult. The number of sentinels behind prison walls has been reduced, while checks on prisoner, who can be in the cell between 8 and 10 hours a day, are sporadic and occasional, with a consequent increase in critical episodes. The aforementioned assault against an agent was preceded by revolts headed by ISIS-affiliated detainees. Muslim Brotherhood’s radicalization alarm remains high.

This is a matter for the Ministers of the Interior and Justice, whose intervention so far has been non-existent despite the repeated appeals made by the Bancali police union. Not even the electoral campaign before the regional elections on Sunday, February 24, led Matteo Salvini to refer to the emergency situation in “Giovanni Bachiddu” in the meeting held today in Sassari. The Muslim Brothers and the emirs of Qatar who sponsor them and who have long turned Sardinia into their own personal stronghold, give thanks.


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