Antar Hakim

Antar Hakim Moustafa Abdelhakim (henceforth just Antar Hakim) is an Egyptian citizen arrested in 2016 together with his brother Antar Hossameldin Mostafa Abdelhakim, Sakher Tarek and Hosny Mahmoud El Hawary Lekaa for terrorist association with the organisation known as ‘Islamic State’, or ‘Daesh’, which aims to commit acts of violence for the purposes of international terrorism. The investigation was conducted by the Anti-terrorism Section of the ROS (Carabinieri) of Genoa and Milan as part of the so-called ‘Taqiya’ operation, from the Arabic ‘dissimulation’, a technique that characterizes the actions of the organization’s members aimed at concealing their radical faith in order to avoid the attention of the investigative bodies.

At the time of his arrest, Antar Hakim (aged 38) was living in Finale Ligure and working as a pizza maker in the ‘Dado Matto’ restaurant in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. The owner of the restaurant described him as a gentle and kind man who had been trying for years to save some money to buy a bigger house for his family. He had been employed for a few months, but had already been in Italy for seven years and was perfectly integrated. The idea that he might have led a double life is a thought that left everyone stunned and shocked.

The police investigations led to the identification of an Egyptian group, organised on a family basis and stationed between Liguria and Lombardy, which was spreading jihadist material on the web and channelling soldiers from North Africa to Syrian territory (and also to Libya) on behalf of the terrorist group ‘Islamic State’ (Daesh). The propaganda and proselytising work was carried out exclusively on the Internet, not only through confidential channels but also, using pseudonyms and fictitious accounts, on the most popular social media. The material, disclosed to numerous contacts, was partly obtained directly from al-Hayat Media Center, the official propaganda organ of the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’. The monitoring services made it possible to document the confidential sharing of the oath of allegiance (bay’ah) to the caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In particular, with reference to Antar Hakim, the investigative findings leave no room for doubt that the defendant has made a useful contribution to the functioning of the terrorist organisation ‘Islamic State’ and to the achievement of its aims, through constant propaganda activities, disseminated through social networks, addressed to numerous ‘friends’, who in turn are account holders. Moreover, according to the contents of a chat with his brother Hossameldin, it appears that the defendant does not disdain to fight for the Islamic State in deference to the mobilisation addressed to all Muslims of the caliph.

Specifically, Antar Hakim, through numerous Facebook profiles that can be traced back to him:
– Published images related to the Islamic State (e.g. an image of a video with the flag of the Islamic State and the inscription ‘there is no God but God, Mohammed’s messenger God. Sharia law is being enforced’) and phrases praising martyrdom (… ‘Oh God, join them. God said: among the believers there are men who have been faithful to the pact they made with Allah. Some of them have reached the end of their lives, others are still waiting, but their attitude does not change’; the ‘post’ is coupled with an image of a leader speaking to armed militiamen carrying the IS flag), or aimed at financial support to promote the victory of the Islamic State (‘Pray for the one who takes action personally and with his own money in order to make his religion victorious by removing the ignorance and humiliation of Muslims’);
– Shared videos aimed at promoting the actions of the Islamic State, proselytising and killing infidels (of particular relevance is the video, produced and disseminated by the al-Hayat Media Center, called kill them wherever you meet them, containing images of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, the brutal killings of prisoners by the attackers themselves, and interviews given by the perpetrators of the massacres);
– Collected numerous profiles of other Facebook users within his own account, containing images and videos related to Islamic State activity (including a film showing Islamic State militiamen beheading Egyptian hostages on a beach);
– Joined the online magazine ‘Dabiq’, published since July 2014 by the Islamic State, a periodical that deals with the themes of emigration to conquered territories and holy war, disseminating information on the life of the Islamic State and providing advice on targets to hit and the domestic manufacture of weapons;
– Joined ‘closed groups’ or forums that can be traced back to the Islamic State, as is clear from their names: ‘The Dawn of the Islamic State’ and ‘Islam is the solution, the law of God Almighty’: groups that function as arenas for dialogue and whose members themselves become sources of content and information from the Islamic State;
– Expressed appreciation for the Facebook page, called ‘the road to Rome’, containing Islamic State jihadist propaganda.

Through these multiple conducts, Antar Hakim did not limit himself to manifesting ideological adherence to the fundamentalist radicalism proper to the Islamic State (as can also be inferred from the images found on the devices, phone and computer, seized from him as well as from the presence, in the address book of the Ipad, of the name of Ahmend Al Halawani, an aspiring fighter for the Islamic State), but contributed to disseminating the propaganda material of said terrorist organization, thus making himself a piece of the media strategy implemented by the same; the communication strategy which, again, represents an operational mode through which the Islamic State aims to recruit through indoctrination militants and followers and to intimidate infidels (the c. d. electronic jihad).

In 2017, the court in Genoa sentenced Antar Hakim to five years’ imprisonment under Article 270 bis of the Penal Code, with deportation from the country to be applied at the end of his sentence. In 2018, the Court of Appeal of Genoa redetermined the crime under Article 414 (apologia and incitement to terrorism) of the Criminal Code, reducing the prison sentence to 3 years and 8 months. In 2019, the Supreme Court annulled the conviction, sending the decision back to the Court of Appeal of Milan, which in November 2019 confirmed the first sentence issued by the Court of Genoa. Thus, Antar Hakim was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment under 270 bis of the Criminal Code.