The Malta Independent 25 May 2019, Saturday

Italy’s Salvini says terrorists have infiltrated migrant boats from Libya

David Lindsay Thursday, 18 April 2019, 12:18 Last update: about 2 months ago

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini yesterday resurrected the spectre of terrorists infiltrating Europe on migrant boats, saying that, “Islamic terrorist infiltration is no longer a risk, it has become a certainty: it is therefore my duty to reiterate that no docking will be allowed on Italian shores.”

Salvini, in a radio interview yesterday, said that chaos in Libya following General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli has increased the risk of terrorist presence on migrant boats headed for Italy

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Italian authorities arrested an Italian convert to Islam and a Moroccan resident who met over the Internet and were preparing to fight with Islamic State in Syria.

Sicilian prosecutors who ordered the arrests said investigators had identified the Italian suspect, 25-year-old Giuseppe Frittatta, from social media posts. They included extremist propaganda as well as photos of himself holding a knife with a 26-centimeter blade calling for deaths to "all westerners."

The 18-year-old Moroccan, Ossama Gafhir, is alleged to have induced Frittatta toward extremism, and was following stringent fitness routine to prepare for combat.

Frittata — a Sicilian who changed his name to Yusef — allegedly was in contact with extremists in Italy and abroad, including an American that prosecutors are trying to identify who provided Islamic State battlefield details.

The arrests were carried out in northern Italy.

Salvini said the arrests reinforced his decision to close Italian ports to humanitarian rescue boats with migrants, "seeing that we already have potential terrorists at home".

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, who met Tuesday with the deputy premier of Libya's UN-backed government, Ahmed Maitig, said renewed fighting could create a "humanitarian crisis that could expose our country to the risk of arrivals by foreign fighters”.

Salvini told reporters that some 500 "terrorists" were in Libyan jails, adding "we don't want to see them arrive by sea”.

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