Hosny Mahmoud

Hosny Mahmoud El Hawarylekaa (henceforth just Hosny Mahmoud) is an Egyptian citizen arrested in 2016 together with the two brothers Antar Hossameldin Mostafa Abdelhakim and Antar Hakim Mostafa Abdelhakim and also with Sakher Tarek for terrorist association with the organisation known as ‘Islamic Stat’, 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 of Carabinieri of Genoa and Milan as part of the so-called ‘Taqiya’ operation.

Hosny Mahmoud, aged 31 at the time of his arrest, had been living in Loano in the province of Savona since 2002, where he worked as a baker. 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 channeling soldiers from North Africa to Syrian territory (and also to Libya) on behalf of the self-styled ‘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, which was 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.

Hosny Mahmoud was stopped on 4 November 2016 at Genoa station on his way back from Egypt. Originally from the same Egyptian locality (El Menoufia) as the Antar brothers, the charge against him is based on the content of telephone and telematic conversations, from which it emerges that Hosny:
– Posted statements on his Facebook profile in which he declared that he ‘loved Jihad’ and wanted to ‘die in the way of Allah’, maintaining direct contact with an Egyptian citizen (Antar Mohamed Mostafa Abdelhakim, brother of the above-named suspects) who is a member of the terrorist organisation, wanted by the Egyptian authorities and currently living in Saudi Arabia;
– Made it clear on several occasions that he was aware of the activities relating to the Islamist context in which the other suspects (the three Antar brothers) are involved, with particular reference to Antar Mohamed, sharing their radical nature on more than one occasion. The fact that, in everyday life, he too maintains a ‘low profile’ behaviour, while in more confidential circumstances, so to speak, he manifests attitudes/ideas of a jihadist nature puts him in the same dissimulating position as the other suspects;
– Explicitly stated – via his ‘fictitious’ Facebook profile traced on the web – that he wanted to carry out jihad.

In spontaneous statements, Hosny Mahmoud confirmed that he had left for Egypt in October 2016 and was due to return to Italy in March 2017. Since about a week after his arrival in Egypt, his brother and his cousin had called him to warn that the Antar brothers had been arrested for terrorism and that his name appeared as well. He then decided to anticipate his return to Italy in order to present himself to the Carabinieri and clarify his extraneousness to the facts.

The evidence acquired during the investigations, assessed together with the statements made by Hosny during the validation of the arrest and reiterated during the trial, do not allow Hosny to be considered a member of the terrorist organisation ‘Islamic State’.
Firstly, although the term ‘jihad’ is commonly understood and used as a synonym for ‘holy war’, it must be pointed out – as stated by the defendant – that this Arabic word (which literally means effort/commitment to something) has a polysemantic nature, since it can be used both in the sense of an inner struggle aimed at improving oneself in the path of God (so-called great Jihad), and in the sense of war (defensive or offensive) against the infidels in the name of God (so-called small Jihad). In reference, in a telephone interception, to the question ‘Are you part of Daesh?’ Hosny replied ‘No, only I love Jihad on God’s way and I hope to die on his way’.
Secondly, the dialogues recorded on the mobile phone in use by Hosny do not provide suitable elements to support the accusatory hypothesis. It must be premised that the relationship between the defendant and the three Antar brothers does not necessarily have to be interpreted as an indication of a shared adherence to terrorist ideology, as it could well be justified by the circumstance, which is not in dispute, that they were all born and lived for a long time in the same Egyptian village El Menoufìa.
In addition, the analysis of the defendant’s Facebook profile and mobile phone did not reveal any videos, images or posts referable to the terrorist association Islamic State.

This was not sufficient to prove membership of the Islamic State, therefore in 2017, the Court in Genoa acquitted Hosny. In 2018, the Court of Appeal of Genoa irrevocably upheld the acquittal.