Barbara Farina

According to judicial documents and open source information, Barbara Farina was born in Milan in 1972, she first came into contact with Islam in 1993, and in 1994 she decided to convert to the religion, adopting the name Aisha, which is the same name of one of the wives (allegedly his favourite) of the Prophet. She quickly embraced an integralist version of Islam, and she came to describe herself as a “mujahidat-Allah”.

Already in 1994, she made headlines fighting for her right to wear the niqab on her ID picture. In 1998 she married, only through Islamic ritual, Abdul Kadel (alias Fall Mamour), Senegalese sociologist and the then Imam of a mosque in the town of Carmagnola, in the province of Turin. She proudly stated that she was effectively Kadel’s second wife, although his first one would later run off with her and Kadel’s son. Interviewed about her faith, she stated that in Islam she found a sense of social justice and respect of traditional values (among which the role of the woman) that she was not finding anymore in western societies.

She and Kadel left Italy for Senegal in 2003 following the expulsion of her husband as he had been found praising Osama Bin Laden and spreading a violent and hateful rhetoric at his mosque. Farina in the meantime had been proactive in the retrieval, study, translation, and diffusion of jihadist documents, propaganda, and fatwas legitimising violent jihad. She ran different blogs where that material was published, and also curated a magazine called “al-Mujahidah” distributed in various Italian mosques that collected her articles on the role of the woman in Islam, and other moral considerations.

She had a vast network of associates with whom she kept in contact. Among these were Jarmoune Mohamed and Andrea Campione, both arrested in the Spring of 2012 for having spread material aimed at training in the use of weapons and explosives with the hope of enabling terrorist attacks. From abroad, she advised Campione on the behaviour to keep so as not to become a target of the Italian authorities. She was also part of a group of women that routinely discussed of militants, ideologues, and theologians. Among these women there were Cristina Ranuccio, for a period girlfriend of Campione, and, more importantly, Malika El-Aroud.

El-Aroud was the widow of one of the suicide attackers that on September 9 2001, acting under instructions from Osama bin Laden, killed Afghan general Ahmad Shah Massoud. El-Aroud was arrested in 2008 in Belgium on terrorism charges. Farina also translated and published on her blog El-Aroud’s auto-biography “The Soldiers of Light”, describing her journey through Islam.

Her activity is credited for having pushed Italian authorities in focusing more on online jihadist propaganda activities. After all, she and her network had been capitalising on the internet well before ISIS came about. In 2008 and 2009 Italian authorities managed to obscure a number of websites linked with the spread of radical Islamist contents, some of which owned by Farina, nonetheless, she has kept on publishing on different outlets. She has since moved to England where she is a certified translator. She still has a blog in Italian called “La Madrasa di Baraka”.