Edmond Ahmetaj

On 11 March 2021, the Court of Bari sentenced Edmond Ahmetaj to two years’ imprisonment for advocating terrorism, with a suspended sentence under the conditions of the law. Edmond Ahmetaj was born in Albania on 4 February 1983 and had been living in Noci since 2004, where he was regularly employed as a baker.

The investigation against Edmond Ahmetaj was initiated at the instigation of the Central Directorate of the Prevention Police in Rome, following the viewing of some multimedia content posted on his Facebook page and the accusation regarded having repeatedly disseminated online audio/video content glorifying the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, and having made an apology for the terrorist association through his Facebook profile using the nickname Mondi Ahmetaj, facts that occurred from January 2015 to 28 September 2016, the date of the seizure of the accused’s IT tools.

Through the analysis and monitoring of his personal page, several Islamic extremist stances emerged, with comments of a terrorist nature, some of them directly in Italian, others in Albanian. A video praising the Islamic conquest of the Italian State was also found on his profile, as well as photographs originally published on the Facebook pages of the group called ‘Vaynah & Albanian Fighters’, referring to Albanian and Caucasian/Chechen fighters.

In particular, he shared videos in which military actions by forces of law and order in Syria against the resident population were immortalised, attaching anti-Western, anti-United States stances, accompanied by expressions of satisfaction with the tragic attacks in Paris in November 2015, as well as some images of himself, immortalised holding a machine gun, and audio-visual documents relating to the terrorist nature of ISIS, addressed to an audience also rooted in the country.

In addition, there is the sharing of Arabic-language videos in which bombings by troops described as ‘invaders/occupiers’ are filmed, also accompanied by anti-Western phrases. In addition, there are videos showing a sequence of images of unequivocal DAESH terrorist actions, including the execution of prisoners. Multiple photographs of the defendant holding a machine gun were also extracted from the seized computer material. The investigation also established that he had shared a video of an interview with the London imam Anjem Choudary: the radical preacher, convicted for supporting ISIS, had reported messages concerning a potential attack in Rome.

At the court hearing before the Court of Prevention Measures, Edmond Ahmetaj affirmed that he had shared the incriminating videos and images, and that he was aware of their content, although he declared that he was not aware that sharing some of them could constitute an offence, since the contents and videos shared indicated adherence to the association and armed struggle of ISIS.

The judge emphasised several times how the content disseminated had the lapidary aim of convincing the reader that joining the Islamic State was the correct and safest choice and that the terrorist actions carried out by the associates were meritorious and a natural consequence of Western colonial policies. It also advocated the reiteration of ISIS terrorist attacks.  The manner of dissemination was such as to make the published content available to an indefinite number of users, since it was published on the Facebook platform, which has the potential to spread beyond national borders.