Ahmad Alhussein Alali

Ahmad Alhussein Alali

On 19 January 2017, the Court of Brescia affirmed the conviction of the Syrian citizen Ahmad Alhussein Alali (alias Faowaz Arhad), born in 1985, condemning him to 4 years of imprisonment pursuant to art. 270bis of the Criminal Code – sentence later confirmed by the Supreme Court – and condemning him to expulsion from Italy upon expiation of the sentence.

Alali had arrived in Italy irregularly together with the minor Alhag Hazem, passing through the Balkan route. From the statements given during his interrogation, it can be understood that he had lived in the Syrian village of Sokhne until 2013, where he was a barber, before moving to Raqqa shortly before it was conquered by IS militants. Subsequently, he stated that before moving to Horfa he had worked as an ISIS traffic policeman for about seven months; subsequently, he left for Italy with Alhag Hazem via the Balkan route.

On 18 November 2015, Alali and Hazem were stopped with counterfeit passports by the Border Police at Orio al Serio (BG) airport while they were about to board a flight to Malta.

Coincidentally with the arrest, an examination of their mobile phones was carried out, and the authorities found several photographs and short videos stored in them, depicting war scenarios, assassinations, armed men and symbols attributable to the well-known terrorist organization called ISIS.

Furthermore, were also found some photographs showing him in military uniform – a light gray tunic with the IS symbol and a badge with the writing in Arabic “ISIS traffic police” – which testify to his belonging to the Islamic State. Other images portrayed Alali himself wearing combat camouflage and a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, highlighting that the accused had been trained during military service. The support of Alali’s family for the established Islamic order appeared evident if we take into account, by Alali’s own admission, the death of his brother Abdelaziz during his militancy in the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra.

In addition, on his cellphone were also found some photos of Alali’s children, portrayed on one occasion with a headband attributable to the al-Nusra terrorist group and a more recent one relating to his youngest child (just nine months old) wearing a black headband with ISIS symbols, which denoted not only his full approval and sharing of the aims of the terrorist organization, but also signalled his progressive transition to a much more rooted and radical organization.

From the analysis it was also possible to deduce the route taken by Alali to reach Italy: he had lived in Syria until 2013, before moving to Raqqa, which was later conquered by ISIS. From Syria, once he left ISIS police unity, he had crossed several countries by car: Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and finally in autumn 2015 he had come up to Austria, from which he reached Italy.

In particular, when he arrived in Vienna, at a refugee camp he came into contact with a Somali man he had found thanks to the support of his cousins who lived in Malta. Following a payment of 750 euros, the Somali provided him with his passport – which was later seized in Bergamo – and the train ticket to Rome.

From Vienna he left for Rome with the Somali Ali Awil Khadar and the Syrian Alhag Hazem. The day following their arrival to the capital, they all together went to Bergamo airport by car. From the judicial papers, it emerged that it was the Somali who had bought the plane tickets; furthermore, it was ascertained that the credit card used for the purchase of such tickets was used several other times in various Northern European countries, exclusively to buy plane tickets with destination Malta.

After viewing the security recordings of the airport’s video surveillance system, the authorities found that the Somali would remain a few steps away from the two Syrians, trying to present himself as a lone traveler. Furthermore, the investigations also revealed that Ali Awil Khadar was a participant in a criminal organization that had solid support in Italy and abroad, as well as significant economic capacity and a network of contacts that enabled it to procure counterfeit documents in a very short time.

In addition, the close connection between the two Syrians, who had made the long journey from Turkey and shared all the stages to Italy, seemed much closer than the normal connection between simple migrants, as well as the link between them and the terrorist group ISIS.

“Faowaz our sheikh”, the entry under which Alali was saved in Alhag’s address book, supported the accusatory assumption according to which Alhag had in fact been entrusted to Alali during the journey to Austria and Malta.

In addition, Alali Faowaz’s decision to carry photographs of his children bearing the symbols of ISIS was certainly not in line with the usual characteristics of asylum seekers. As these images could not be classified as simple “family memories”, the purpose of their storage, given the risk of possessing images with such clear references to ISIS on European territory, was to legitimise and accredit him as a member of the organisation to those he would reach at his final destination.

Unlike a normal asylum-seeker migrant, thanks to unspecified “loans” from random subjects or distant relatives, Alali was able to stay in hotels, had the time and also the willingness to photograph himself in playful situations, and had the latest generation smartphone devices. Furthermore, Alali did not stop in the first democratic country he reached in order to request the recognition of refugee status, but continued crossing other territories, behaving like an illegal immigrant with good economic opportunities.

All the elements indicated above, considered together, led to the belief that Alali was not credible as a migrant fleeing from his own country, but also brought to light an alarming circumstantial framework against a subject who was headed to Malta, a probable place of sorting of people who, under the guise of refugees, would then be sent to other European destinations, thus demonstrating his belonging to the terrorist organization and its presence in Europe (and in Italy) correlated to the pursuit of its objectives.