Clandestines and Terrorists, a Reality to be Aware of

By Souad Sbai

From Tunisia to Sicily: arrests and wiretapping clearly show how the migrant trafficking is being exploited by aspiring terrorists in Europe. Now, it is impossible to estimate how many jihadists have arrived in the past few years, and their rank within the terrorist structures.

Myths to be debunked, alarms to raise. This formula is apt to synthesize the developments we have been witnessing in the past few weeks. From Tunisia to the Sicilian coast, Marsala to be precise, transfers in style of migrants, and not only, are taking place on ultra-fast dinghies, comfortably driving them to Italy.

This is how illegal immigration is flourishing, along with the smuggling of merchandise of any kind. The cost of each trip ranges from 3 to 5 thousand euros.

But the key issue, the real one, is not the migrant trafficking. The latter has been going on for years, and nobody has dared to fully stop it. The key issue is the presence of certain figures linked to Islamic jihadist radicalism. The Italian police was able to thwart this traffic and arrest 13 people thanks to a series of tapping. In one of them, the words that were recorded are quite clear and disturbing: “May God help me in what I have to do”. This is what one of the man apprehended said about a one-way trip to France, even hinting at dangerous actions he was intended to execute.

Among those departing from the Tunisian coasts, there were potential jihadists. This phenomenon exists and is real.

The scope of the antiterrorist operation suggests the impossibility of calculating how many potential terrorists have arrived on our coasts until now, and of how many we have lost track: some of them voluntarily choose to go to prison in order to massively proselytize the inmates, enticing them into moving forward along the path of jihad – the same jihad that failed in Syria or Iraq.

The risk of terrorists penetrating into Italy among migrants have been denounced also as to Sardinia, where around 3.200 Algerians disembarked between 2016 and 2017. What were they escaping from? From war? There does not seem to be any war in Algeria…

It is not to be forgotten that Algeria and Tunisia have been, each in their own way, decisive for the growth of the extremist phenomenon in the last 25 years. In the 90s, Algiers and its surroundings witnessed the birth of the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) and the GIA (Armed Islamic Group), which in turn gave rise to a devastating clash that caused more than 370 thousand victims.

Here is when the modern jihadist organizations started to be active, such as Jamaa Islamiya, AQMI, Al Qaeda or ISIS.

It is no coincidence that Al Qaeda and ISIS made an alliance in Libya, headed by the legendary terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the undisputed leader of the Algerian jihadism back to those years.

Tunisia was the first country to experience the Arab Spring fomented by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political expression is the Islamist party Ennahda. And Tunisia was also the first country to roll back, since the people quickly understood that the Algerization was closer than ever.

Therefore, as for the latest developments in Italy, the fear is that radicalized individuals will infect the Sicilian migrant communities, an example of good integration for many years, thus creating another of those time bombs that the West has been self-producing for years.

In the “do it yourself” mosques, these individuals can find new documents, new identities, hospitality, and connections with the jihadist reality in Italy and Europe.

Now it remains to be seen how many of these figures have landed on the Italian coasts, of how many we have lost track, and the rank of all of them in the jihadist structures, while the discourse of do-goodism used to tell us that this was not possible because within the migration issue there are only good guys, and never the bad ones.

(*) La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana