El Aoual Mouner

Mouner El Aoual

Mouner El Aoual, also known as Mido, was born on October 10, 1988, in Morocco. At the time of his arrest, he was residing at Via Val della Torre in Turin, Italy, reportedly living illegally in the country since 2008 and lacking proper identification documents. He had been issued an expulsion decree by the Prefect of Trieste on November 13, 2012.
El Aoual came under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of Turin for his involvement with ISIS. He pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, propagated jihadist ideology on the web, and disseminated news from the official ISIS channel “Amaaq Agency.” Operating as the administrator and key figure on the ZELLO social network channel called “the state of the Islamic caliphate,” he shared the political project against Shiites and incited multiple times to set up in Morocco for jihad.
Using the username “ibn dawla7” on ZELLO, he subscribed to channels with an Islamist imprint, notably “The State of the Islamic Caliphate.” El Aoual played a significant role within the platform, acting as a preacher, discussion moderator, and group manager. He emphasized the importance of media dissemination to promote ISIS ideals and identified himself as the official spokesperson of the Islamic State. Investigators point out that as part of international police cooperation, the FBI had reported that it had intercepted a conversation in a chat room on ZELLO between a person under investigation in the United States and another resident in Italy, the latter active on the platform under the nickname ibn dawla7 in February 2016.
He discussed in chat rooms about the preparation of attacks in Italy to be conducted with several people and with the use of knives, making explicit reference to ISIS and thus to the jihadist phenomenon. Using Zello, the suspect was subscribed to channels with a pronounced Islamist imprint, including the channel “The State of the Islamic Caliphate,” which turned out to be the channel most frequently used by the suspect and which is his communication tool with all associates who adhere to the ideology of the Islamic State.
The ZELLO investigation showed how the suspect had a prominent role within what users called the dialogue “committee,” taking on the role of preacher, discussion moderator, and group manager. Equally indicative of his role and awareness are his words when he stressed the importance of the media and the dissemination of links, information, pictures and news to promote the ideals of the Islamic State. He declared himself to be the official spokesman of the Islamic State, a claim confirmed by the publication by him on a regular basis within the group of a “Newsletter” of the Islamic Caliphate.
He also shared explanatory multimedia content on the web on how to conduct terrorist attacks with knives and how to prepare explosive devices, instigated organizing to carry out terrorist attacks, including abroad, as part of the lone wolf strategy. He carried out proselytizing activities to third parties to persuade them to join the Islamic State project and reach the organization’s territory to join the fighters, and supported and motivated interlocutors present in theatres of war by inciting them to stay and continue the armed struggle.
He also used the Facebook profile “salah Deen”, which was found to be at risk of potential radicalization in an Islamist sense. The accounts used, however, turned out to use utilities not in his name, but those of his host household, namely Margherita S. and her son Giuliano F. From the wiretaps, the suspect appears to be an unpredictable person, a habitual user of narcotics, quarrelsome and controlling within the walls of his foster family, easy to outbursts of anger and the protagonist of a progressive path of legal hardening to his personal beliefs.
El Aoual’s persuasive and propagandistic effectiveness clearly emerges from the attestations of esteem shown towards him by other users. In addition, it is clear from the conversations that he is regarded as an expert in the packaging of explosives and is engaged by various other users to contribute their knowledge, putting it at the disposal of brothers trained to commit terrorist acts in unspecified Western countries. From the wiretaps, he also demonstrates significant abilities to support and counter opposing arguments, involving even “newcomers” in the ZELLO group and making them feel part of a family, neutralizing any feelings of loneliness and hesitancy in his interlocutor. Such is supported by the use of a particular vocabulary, as for the case of the term Ansar, meaning support, rescue, help, or the use of the “us” and “we” when referring to the Islamic State.
In the ZELLO channel, messages containing expressions of jubilation, glorification of martyrdom and violent jihad against unbelievers were shared, provide further evidence that the ZELLO application and in particular the channel “the state of the Islamic caliphate” is a meeting place and religious radicalization of internet users close to the Islamic state through sharing nasheed of war and glorification of terrorist attacks.
From the wiretaps arose speeches inciting violence, racial, ethnic, and religious hatred, which brings out qualities of extreme danger, especially because they represent, in the thoughts of those who utter them, the rule to be followed in pursuing the goals designated by the caliphate, explicitly calling for killing, even to the point of accusing countries such as Morocco of implementing a policy of excessive secularism and openness to other religions and of hindering Islamic behaviour, inciting an unidentified user within the channel to take action himself to set up armed groups in Morocco with which to conduct jihad, following the dynamics of the origins of the Iraqi theatre of war. Noteworthy is the constant admonition not to provide any information that could lead to their identification, as well as urging those who plan to join the militia to be extra careful so as not to run into spies and informers.
El Aoual was arrested in April 2017. In December 2018, he was sentenced to six years in prison by Court of Turin, a sentence later reduced to five years on appeal. The trial highlighted El Aoual’s incitement to violence, racial, ethnic, and religious hatred, making him a perceived threat due to his commitment to pursuing the goals designated by the caliphate.