Jalal El Hanaoui

Jalal El Hanaoui

Jalal El Hanaoui was born on 9 May 1990, in Souk Sebt, Morocco. At the age of eight, he relocated to Ponsacco, Italy, with his parents and his brother Hamza. He was arrested on 6 July 2015, in execution of a decree of 9 December 2015 issued by the Court of Florence for the crime of incitement to commit terrorist attacks, aggravated by the use of IT. The crime referred specifically to ten online posts published by El Hanaoui between 9 December 2014 and 9 June 2015.
Jalal was present on Facebook under various aliases (“Jalal El Mellali”, later changed to “Jalal Al Andalusi”, “Jalal El Mellali al Hanaoui” and “Daniele Rovato”), through which he administered groups on the Muslim faith (“Islam and the Sublime Koran,” “Muslims of Italy,” “An Invitation to Islam from ‘wa ila islam,” and “Islamic Video in Italian”). His strong adherence to the principles of radical Islam was evident in the rigid behaviours he had in his private life; for example, at the age of six he coerced his mother to wear a veil, as he admitted in a phone call.
Until 2014, El Hanaoui’s life was marked by excesses, including reports of theft and aggravated damage. However, by the end of 2014, he abandoned his former lifestyle, renouncing alcohol and drugs and distancing himself from the friends with whom he frequented clubs and public venues.
He began to have behaviours related to a sudden adherence to Islamic extremism. He resigned from his job as an employee of the company “Biancoforno” without apparent alternative employment, falsely claiming to get married in Morocco, and travelled alone to Istanbul, potentially a gateway to territories associated with the Islamic State. When he came back from Istanbul he spent a lot of time at home, devoting himself mainly to religious interests. El Hanaoui’s online presence became a platform for spreading hatred towards non-Islamic societies and inciting violence, as evident in his posts praising martyrdom. Additionally, he visited propaganda sites that reported speeches of the head of the IS, actions of war, scenes of beheadings, Iraq revolution, Syria revolution, and, Al-Furqan. He also visited the website Jihadology.
His radicalization emerged also from private conversations, such as a message in which he expressed the need of a revolution in Italy. Moreover, investigators noted interactions with Mahdi Halili, who had already been convicted for promoting the IS, and Khakhia Oussama, who had been expelled from Italy and Switzerland due to connections with international terrorism.
However, during interrogations, he rejected the accusation of extremism and claimed moderation. There is evidence that he has removed content and people with extreme positions from the Facebook groups that he administered. So, El Hanaoui was acquitted by the Court of Assizes of Pisa. Then, in March 2018, he was sentenced by the Court of Appeal of Florence to one year and eight months (suspended sentence). In April 2019, the Court of Cassation upheld the appeal judgment.