Firas Barhoumi

Firas Barhoumi

In 2016, the Prosecutor’s Office of Rome issued a precautionary custody order against the Tunisian citizen Firas Barhoumi, born in 1987, who was charged with the crime of association for the purposes of international terrorism, under article 270-bis of the Italian Criminal Code.

Specifically, such indictment pertained to his affiliation and involvement with the terrorist international organisation called ISIS. According to the aforementioned article, anyone who participates in associations intending to carry out acts of violence, with the aim of terrorism or subversion of the democratic order, is punished with imprisonment from five to ten years.

As already described in the analysis of Brigande Carlito’s case, the Muslim devotee Barhoumi Firas, whose military training was also well acknowledged, was the responsible of Brigande’s recruitment into ISIS.

The two met for the first time while sharing an imprisonment in Velletri (RM) in 2014, for the crime of drug trafficking.

Afterwards, when Barhoumi left the prison, he was not fully released but associated to a CIE (i.e.: Center for Identification and Expulsion), and only later, on 30 July 2015, was expelled to Tunisia.

By mid-October he would also have the possibility of reaching war territory in Iraq, as found upon examination of IP addresses.

Gradually, Barhoumi also showed some somatic signs of progressive radicalization, such as the longer beard and the appearance on his forehead of the so-called “zabiba” (raisin in Arab), or prayer callus, that is the mark which forms after the numerous prostrations made in sign of prayer, by kneeling and placing one’s head on the ground.

The first evidences of the commonality of purpose between the duo were discovered on the occasion of Brigande Carlito’s arrest on 2 November 2015, when the police found in his dwelling some random sheets with various contact details of Barhoumi Firas (i.e.: telephone numbers, emails, Skype and Facebook contacts).

On 11 March 2016, upon execution of the precautionary custody order against him and Brigande — while Barhoumi was known to be on war territory in Iraq — notable documentation was also found during the search carried out in Brigande’s cell at Regina Coeli prison, which proved again the close relationship between the two. Particularly relevant was a document with Barhoumi’s contact details which was delivered to Brigande, bearing on the back the Islamic profession of faith present on the DAESH flag (“There is no god except God (Allah). Mohammed is his Prophet”).

These contact details, together with the references to emails and social network profiles, allowed the unquestionable identification of the Tunisian as an already wanted international terrorist.

Barhoumi’s telephone number was used in various contacts between him and Brigande and his Facebook account also showed images ascribable to ISIS.

On the basis of the analysis of computer data, other documentary sources were found, including various photos of Barhoumi wearing a camouflage suit, embracing a rifle and a RPG grenade launcher.

Such images were exchanged on Telegram between the two on 20 October 2015, when Barhoumi told Brigande that he was planning an operation (i.e. a car bomb attack), and that at the same time Barhoumi could have had postponed the terrorist attack for a month, in order to deal with the arrival of Brigande, who confirmed the imminence of his departure.

It is precisely from the analysis of their audio messages in broken Italian that the Carabinieri discovered their terrorist project.

«There is no problem akhi (brother)… Everything will be fine, inshallah, even if you want to come here… I can fix everything for you. Just make a program like this, even with false documents so you can come, inshallah», said Barhoumi to Brigande in an excerpt.

The large volume of correspondence between the two therefore took place on 20 October 2015 via Telegram, with the exchange of the aforementioned photos and of mutual audio messages.

The theme of transit through Turkey was also mentioned, and precisely that the country, open to tourism, allowed for peaceful transit and first contacts with people who could facilitate the reaching of territories of interest to ISIS.

The fate of Firas Barhoumi is unknown and, at the present time, he remains untraceable.