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Mafia Connection
  • Jihad and Mafia
    Jihad and Mafia
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism officials highlighted a long-standing connection between the jihadists and the Neapolitan camorra. They also discovered links with the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra and the calabrian 'Ndrangheta, tracing the weapons subject to clandestine traffic that easily arrived in Neapolitan ports. Later, in 2017, Anis Amri, the terrorist who killed 12 people in Berlin in a Christmas market, was found and shot dead in Italy. According to intelligence sources, he was trying to reach Sicily. "The Islamic extremists who, month after month, are arrested in Italy always show more clearly an interaction between Islamic terrorism and the mafia organizations present on our territory," explains Margherita Paolini, a famous italian scholar and geopolitical expert “Camorra, Cosa Nostra and 'Ndrangheta have for many years now established a bond of connivance integrated with the terrorists where there is a constant and continuous exchange of weapons, drugs and false documents ". Italy is in fact a strategic logistics hub for both terrorists who want to transit to and from the rest of Europe and for criminal organizations that exploit these subjects to implement drug trafficking, arms, cigarettes and prostitution. According to many analysts, Italian mafias allow and help terrorist cells to reach the country, allow them to live into the country or to pass through it with a clear agreement: don't hit Italy. An attack on Italian territory will imply in fact a greater control and a closer monitoring on the field by police and by the Army, which will of course be contrary to mafia's interests because it will potentially blow their business up. Apparently the deals are very clear and very stricts. According to sources, if the mafia organizations are aware of some subject that intends to" violate" the agreement, they manage to 'expose' him in some way and made sure he is arrested before carrying out an attack. Practically, they stop him legally before he can act. And for a good reason. The terrorist cells radicated in Italy are in fact linked to the criminal organizations by a very solid association based on a millionaire business that is almost never mentioned or highlighted but has recently been confirmed by a 'pentito' (a former mafia person now informer of police) during a 'Ndrangheta trial. And, according to the the italian National Antimafia Directorate "the evolution of international terrorism and the investigations carried out so far into the criminal activities of the Islamic State and jihadi groups in our country confirm the intertwining of mafia criminal organizations and international terrorism. More than a intertwining, in fact, a total interpenetration”. The first business that jihadi and mafias share is the smuggling of goods and the trafficking of weapons and drugs: and the most commercially advantageous routes for the mafias correspond to those of the terrorists. The first is without any doubt the Balkan one that allows terrorists, but also to arms or drugs, coming from Afghanistan or Pakistan to reach Italy by first crossing Turkey and Greece; the second is the African one which originates in West Africa and which, crossing Nigeria and Mali reaches the Libyan, Tunisian and Algerian coasts. The other business are extortion and kidnapping, but also antiques trafficking and oil smuggling. There are also indications of organs smuggling. Jihadist terrorism finds in Italy also logistic bases for the production of propaganda videos but above all for the production of false documents, passports or identity cards used by smugglers, traffickers and bombers. Italy is unfortunately one of the world's epicenters for forged documents. The same routes, also controlled and supervised by criminal organizations, are used for trafficking migrants. Over the years, Italy has been the privileged location of a number of terrorist organizations: one for all the Tamil Tigers, who raised funds and organized their activities from Sicily with the blessings of Cosa Nostra. Some affiliates of Lashkar-i-Toiba were arrested in 2015 in a resounding round of arrests of majority Pakistani citizens made by the Italian police for subversive activities. Furthermore, in 2016, a handful of Pakistani citizens were arrested and repatriated due to links with terrorist organizations. Between 2009 and 2012, an Anglo-Pakistani criminal network came under investigation for about one million euro of black funds, which was tracked in documents seized by American and British services in some Taliban areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. One of the three terrorists who carried out the 2017 London Bridge attack came from Italy and had lived in Bologna with his Italian family until 2016. And, according to some scholars, even Al Qaida has in the past used Italy as its logistical base in Europe. But despite the record of arrests and expulsion Italian police has, probably due to the decades of experience dealing with homegrown terrorist groups and criminal organizations, the situation remains alarming. And Italy remains the privileged hub for criminal activities and for terrorist groups to fund theiir activities and to plan attacks abroad.
Francesca Marino