Sentence of corte d’assise d’appello (appeals court) of milan, 19 december 2016, n.8/16.
- 2008 - 2016
- Italy ,
- Saudi Arabia ,
- Syrian Arab Republic
Identification of the Source
Sentence of Corte D’Assise D’Appello (Appeals Court) of Milan, 19 December 2016, N.8/16.
KeywordsHijrah (egira) Dar Al-Kufr Shaid Shuada’ Kuffar Ridda
Most of the following information comes from phone interceptions and forensic extractions of data contained in mobile devices, confiscated to different suspects during the investigations.
XX converted to Islam from Catholicism during the adolescence and started vising the local mosque. After the bachelor in the school XX she started the university because wanted to be a biotechnologist, to cure severe diseases.
2008 - XX get married with a North African ‘pizza-maker’ called XX
2009 - XX participates to the talk-show Pomeriggio 5 (Italian TV), wearing Hijab and supporting the idea that women should cover themselves. XX is very active in the different Islamic forums and is part of the YouTube channel managed by XX, a Texan preacher converted to Islam, who has extremist positions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_Estes).
2011- XX divorces from Jamal suggesting that he was not “Muslim enough”.
29th of June 2014 – IS (-Islamic State) is officially proclaimed in Mosul
2012-2015 – XX, Canadian citizen of Syrian origin, resident in Bologna, Italy, until 2012, then moved to Saudi Arabia. She implemented koranic lessons using a closed chat online and Skype lessons. Access to the “study group” was restricted to internauts specifically invited by other chat members. In the “study group” XX took virtually place every Wednesday and Sunday and was the contact point in Italy to invite other participants. The lesson was about the interpretation of the Koran – Aqidah e Tafsir- with a strong Salafi approach and supporting Da’ysh ideology. XX distributed online documents on how to reach Syria, promoting the Islamic State, and suggesting changing accounts and devices for communications and cancelling all previous communications from the Hard Disk.
April 2014 – XX meets XX at the exhibition of the Islamic book in San Paolo Argon (Italy). XX introduces XX (Albanian) to XX. Both were looking for a wedding to go to Syria.
17th of September 2014 – XX got married to XX in Inzago (Lecco)
Between 17th and 20th of September 2014 – XX booked the flight to Istanbul in a small agency in Grosseto. XX gave to the agency the phone number of XX.
21st September 2014 – XX, XX and XX fly to Istanbul and after that to Gaziantep, Turkey. From there they entered into Syria.
Always on the 21st of September 2014, thanks to the check of the SDI (police database), border police at the airport departures noted that XX and the others were accompanied by XX and XX (brothers of XX), who were already known to the police of Grosseto because they in the past hosted XX and XX, both known as foreign fighters in Syria. This information was confirmed by Albanian authorities.
Despite this they could leave Italy to Turkey lacking the legal tool to stop them and prevent their departure to Syria.
Remark: The legal evolution of the legislation is a key tool to counter this type of crimes.
22nd of September 2014 – arrival in Turkey and get in contact with the telephone number of the s-called “coordinator” of Da’ysh.
October 2014 – informant reports to the police in Italy that a young girl from Inzago is getting extremely radicalized and after the wedding with an individual from Albania, emigrated to Syria.
The young girl is XX, who already left Italy to Syria in September. This information provided the legal basis for a formal investigation.
October 2014 – the police acquired the phone records and activate internet interception of XX and of the whole family and friends, and people emerging from the network based upon a judicial order.
28th of November 2014 – XX completed his 40-days military training in Iraq and was registered in the book listing all mujahedin in Syria
12th of December 2014 – Police extended phone interceptions of specific phone numbers, belonging to a small group of international recruiters, based in Syria and working in Turkey, with connections all over the world, XX, coordinator XX, responsible for the French and Libyan FF (foreign Fighter) etc.
7th of January 2015 – Attack at Charlie Hebdo journal.
17th of January 2015 – the media impact given by the terrorist attack in France, influenced strongly the situation of XX family. They massively attracted the interests of the Italian media.
24th of January 2015 – XX, aware of the social pressure on her family, increases her exhorts to leave the country and reach her in Syria, in line with the Islamic precept of Hijrah interpreted as ‘XX’.
18th February 2015 – Italian Law Decree 7/2015, which criminalized the recruited individuals/vulnerable in addition to the recruiters, the organizers and facilitators of the travel to IS territories, trainers as well as trainees and financiers of the preparatory activities.
19th of March 2015 – XX family started to sell their goods – closet, carpet sweepers, chest of drawers – on different website.
30th of March 2015 – XX officially convinced her whole family to leave the country and join ISIS in Syria and making the Hijrah (egira). The father communicated to ELCE his decision to leave the agency.
April 2015 - The father, XX, was on temporary layoff (since 4 years) and had to choose if sign the work contract with the company ELCO again or get the early pension, thus getting 19.000 € liquidation + 6.000 TRF.
End of April 2015 – the two sisters (XX and XX) started using cryptical language and message to communicate to each other, so the police decided to install a video surveillance in front of their house. They analyzed their movement and saw that they bought new suitcases.
29th of June 2015 – Arrest order to XX (Father), XX (Sister) and XX (Mother).
20th of November 2015 – UN resolution 2249, recalling UN resolution 2170 and 2178 of 2014 inviting all member states to act against ISIS, recognized as official terror organization.
13th of April 2016 – Police retrospectively analyzes the web site ISLAM FORUM and they find an appeal, signed by XX against the anti-burqa law, proposed by some Italian right-wing parties.
Type of Crime
Terror-related crime (TN) - Association within the supranational terrorist organization called ‘’Islamic State'', for trying to commit acts of violence with terrorist purposes and in particular to participate in the various terrorist activities carried out by the Islamic State both within the occupied Syrian territory outside the same.
• Article 270bis of the Criminal Code "Associations for the purposes of terrorism, including international or subversion of the democratic order".
Anyone who promotes, establishes, organizes, directs or finances associations aimed at carrying out acts of violence with the purpose of terrorism or subversion of the democratic order is punished with imprisonment from seven to fifteen years.
Anyone participating in such associations is punished with imprisonment from five to ten years.
For the purposes of the criminal law, terrorism also occurs when acts of violence are directed against a foreign state, an institution or an international body.
The confiscation of the goods that served or was destined to commit the crime and of the things that are the proceed, the product, the profit or that constitute its use is always mandatory towards the convicted person.
• Art. 270quater of the Criminal Code "Enlistment for the purposes of terrorism, including international terrorism".
Anyone, outside of the cases referred to in Article 270bis, enlist one or more persons for the execution of acts of violence or sabotage of essential public services, for the purpose of terrorism, even if directed against a foreign state, an institution or international body, is punished with imprisonment from seven to fifteen years. Out of the cases referred to in art. 270bis, and except in the case of training, the enlisted person is punished with imprisonment from five to eight years.
Type of crime
Following the UN resolution nr. 2249 and the EU-Directive 2017/541 on terrorism, as practical implementation of previous UN Resolutions between 2014 and 2016, a new typology of terror-related crimes has been introduced into the Italian legal system. The new law punishes not only the attacks per se (or attempts of attacks) but also the propaedeutic acts:
Participating in a terrorist network officially recognized; Recruitment of a group of people; The organization of travels to Syria; Selling their personal goods in order to finance the travel (art. 270 sexies c.p.); Being recruited by someone.
In this framework, the profile of the ‘new terrorists’ may be completely different from the profile of traditional terror perpetrators. What marks the difference is the fact that ‘act’, intended as terror acts, are missing while preparatory acts prevail. IN the case, the intentions of XX (the father) and his wife are very indicative of this complexity: the father has been convicted to 4 years prison (both dead in the meantime) but it’s still unclear if they wanted to reach their daughter or adhere to Isis.
Concern: How far can we anticipate the threshold of legal punishment and criminalization in the absence of ‘attempts’ or ‘acts’, without infringing fundamental rights of vulnerable individuals?
1) Technologies for recruitment: recruitment and radical influence happened through a private chat between XX and XX. Other tools used mainly skype calls, but also chat online through WhatsApp and Facebook. Suggestions to use Twitter instead of Skype for security reasons.
The whole group had very low knowledge of technology and was obsessed by police controls and interceptions. The ignorance on what effectively police forces and intelligence can/cannot control was an asset in this case, because XX used extensively Skype with the assumption that she could not be heard / intercepted.
2) Da’ysh Protection from investigations: it is clear from the interceptions of the Turkish phone of the coordinator, that Da’ysh was aware of the LEAs capabilities and therefore prohibited the introduction into Syria of any traceable device (iPhone, Galaxy, Samsung, computers, Tablets, etc.) suggesting the use of old and not traceable mobile devices like old Nokia for the necessary communications.
For example, the coordinator located in Syria and working with a Turkish phone informed the recruited person in Lebanon to leave all the electronic devices before arriving in Gaziantep (he specifies: “no smartphone, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and these types of devices you don’t have to bring along with you. No laptops” – “When you arrive in Turkey you should have along with you only a small telephone for the communication with me. Sell the telephone you have in Lebanon and buy a small telephone Nokia or a small Samsung”.
3) The main interest of the terror group in Syria was to attract individuals from foreign countries to recruit fighters and supporters. In the areas-like Libya- where ‘wilayat’ existed, Da’ysh prohibited the Hijrah.
4) Recruitment and radicalization happen in close circles. In this specific case was very important the family networking, which allowed XX and other family members to get married to and join the terrorist network. The activity of the influencers was concentrated within the boundaries of the extended family and friends.
5) Technologies and Investigative tools: The most used investigative measures are
-5-a- interceptions of mobile phone, and environmental interception (car, home, etc.);
-5.b- mobile forensics for the acquisition of telephone contacts to map the networks, their hierarchies and extend the interceptions;
-5.c- acquisition of data through confiscated mobile devices, including screenshot applications for the encrypted chats (Android);
-5.d- Web analysis (“Islam Forum”, etc.).
The technological tools strongly supported traditional investigation techniques in this case.
6) Legal tools proved to be very effective in the case (judicial reform of 2015 and 2016 go better frame new forms of terrorism).
Remark: Support from the local communities and neighbors are absent in this case. The initial information of the anonym informant seems to be more a tool of the intelligence to start a formal investigation than a real community input. Public-private cooperation, in the form designed by the EU policies, is fully absent in this case, despite a strong presence of radical indicators like: conversion of the Sergio sisters and the mother wearing the niqab in small Italian villages; the father had a long beard; progressive isolation of the family from the rest of the community, etc.
(a) XX, born in Bologna, Italy on the XX, resident in Ryadh (Saudi Arabia), fugitive
(b) XX, born in Albania on the XX, lives/killed probably in Syria, fugitive
(c) XX, born in Albania on the XX, resident in Italy, lives/killed probably in Syria, fugitive
(d) XX, born in Albania on the XX, lives/killed probably in Syria, fugitive
(e) XX, born in Italy in the XX, lives/killed probably in Syria, fugitive
(f) XX, born in Sava (Croatia) on the XX, dead.
Helped by: XX, XX, XX
All individuals convicted come from small peripherical areas in Italy (Inzago, Domicella, Poggio Ferro Scansano & Treviglio) or Albania (Lac Krujer).
All belongs to specific family groups (XX, XX, XX)
The initial recruiter (XX) is the only external subject, who lived in a bigger city (first Bologna and then Riyadh) and who did not belong to the family groups.
No past criminal history is documented
Influential and/or vulnerable Groups
This case is very interesting because:
1- Influencers are clearly identified as recruiters (XX, XX, etc.)
2- Vulnerable are clearly identified as recruited (all family members convinced to make the XX to Syria)
3- However, vulnerable persons like XX became then recruiters of other vulnerable individuals, therefore convincing others online to travel to Syria.
In this case vulnerable individuals are the recruited and influencers are the recruiters. However, the case analysis shows that borders between the two categories may blur and vulnerable may become influencers at a certain point.
Some sociological remarks may help to outline the future platform:
-1- All individuals convicted come from small peripherical areas in Italy (Inzago, Domicella, Poggio Ferro Scansano & Treviglio) or Albania (Lac Krujer).
-2- All belongs to specific family groups (XX, XX, XX). The initial recruiter (XX) is the only external subject, who lived in a bigger city (first Bologna and then Riyadh) and who did not belong to the family groups.
-3- Except for the XX Family (XX, XX and XX, Italian of Croatian origin), all people under investigation were third country nationals (Albanians and Canadian of Syrian origin) and therefore the application of security measures (expulsion after the penal execution) was decided. However, for the Italian citizens this measure was not possible.
Using this interpretative framework, the legal and sociological/ethical dimensions are not congruent, because we risk that vulnerable individuals exposed to recruitment attempts become criminals (Case of XX and his wife). While legal measures are fit for purposes in the case of the ‘muhajirun’ (XX, XX, XX, etc.), the fighters or perpetrators of ‘acts’ or ‘attempts’, doubts emerge in the case the most vulnerable individuals, like the father XX and his wife XX. Maybe a social intervention could have better prevented their final decision to reject the job opportunity, withdraw their retirement money to rejoin the daughter in Syria.
It seems that the investigative interest to gain information and evidences was prevalent with respect to the effective situation of the vulnerable individuals, who died during the legal proceeding.