Italy: ISIS Fighters Are Posing As Refugees In Our Camps
The Bari-Palese CARA Refugee Reception Center in Italy’s southern province of Puglia was built to host 850 refugees. These days, it’s overflowing with 1,389—mostly men from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who wait behind high walls and spirals of barbed wire for their political-asylum applications to be heard.
The center is a hotbed of discontent, and most of the men who stay there would rather be just about anywhere else. In 2013, a Kurdish refugee was killed there in a violent riot that started as a protest against maltreatment. Since then, the camp gates are left open so the refugees and migrants can come and go as they please.
Early Tuesday, Italian anti-mafia police (who are also in charge of anti-terrorism activities in the country) entered the camp and arrested Hakim Nasiri, a 23-year-old from Afghanistan, on international terrorism charges. He had been granted provisional political asylum on May 5, despite the fact that undercover detectives posing as refugees inside the camp had been trailing his suspicious movements since December.
Among the treasure trove of selfies found on his cellphone was one with the mayor of Bari, Antonio Decaro, taken at a rally in support of integrating Italy’s growing immigrant communities. Other photosconfiscated by police show Nasiri brandishing semi-automatic weapons in unidentifiable gun shops.
At the same time across town, police also arrested Gulistan Ahmadzai, 29, also from Afghanistan, on charges he abetted illegal immigration specifically related to the alleged recruitment of jihadi fighters who he helped bring into Europe as well as a connection to “Islamic fundamentalists associated with attacks in Paris and Belgium,” according to the arrest warrant issued by the anti-mafia police. On his computer, police said they found propaganda material for “jihadi fighters sympathetic to the Islamic State” and instruction manuals for building explosives. Also according to the arrest warrant, he was said to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, an ISIS splinter group that reportedly broke off from the Taliban.