Mounir Bahroumi

Pronouncing a second instance judgement, the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Bologna reduced the initial sentence from 3 years, 6 months, and 20 days to 2 years and 8 months in prison for Mounir Barhoumi – a Tunisian citizen residing in Italy – who was charged for “the crime of self-training for [jihadist] terrorist purposes, also on an international level”.
Arrested in February 2020, Barhoumi was sentenced by the preliminary hearing judge (GUP) of the court of Bologna to 3 years, 6 months, and 20 days imprisonment for the above-mentioned charge in February 2021. The measures adopted by the court had taken into account the aggravating circumstance provided for by art. 270 quinquies of the Criminal Code: “use of IT and telematic tools” for the activity subject to a crime. The accused had in fact established various contacts linked to the Islamic State through social networks, also providing for a systematic and progressive acquisition of know-how and material aimed at the construction of bombs and the carrying out of terrorist acts. As well, he possessed instructions related to “combat techniques and recommendations for evading pursuers and avoiding capture”.
Therefore, the sentence confirmed the charges previously listed by the judge for preliminary investigations (GIP) of the same court, who had ordered the precautionary detention in prison for the defendant, considering the risk of flight and his “repeated trips made in Tunisia for unknown reasons”.
Born in 1995, Mounir Barhoumi had settled down in the municipality of Busseto, in the province of Parma. He had a regular residence permit, which was renewed for the last time by the Immigration Office of Parma on 24 April 2018 and was set to expire on 23 April 2020. As documented in the precautionary custody order, the radicalisation process of the young construction worker took place in parallel with the acquisition of online material relating to the Islamic State. With this, it is important to highlight that there was no relevant evidence of any physical encounter with other radicalised subjects or with individuals related to the jihadist environment. However, the accused was able to establish in a very short time, telematic contacts all over the world; from the United States to Yemen, exchanging violent messages and multimedia files.
From the court order of Bologna, it emerges that Barhoumi was present in two WhatsApp groups related to the jihadist cause. One was called “The nasheed of the Islamic State” (Arabic term designating a cappella songs or accompanied by percussion instruments) and the other one was called “The army of the Caliphate”, both created in January 2019. It was precisely at that time that the defendant chose to change his previous profile picture which depicted a black eagle with a new one depicting three Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK-47). Moreover, he also joined 71 Telegram channels; most of which were directly related to the Islamic State. Finally, he created two Facebook profiles that he used very actively in communities that praised the ideology of the Islamic State.
Furthermore, an agenda was found inside of Barhoumi’s house, where the subject used to write down messages of fundamentalist content. Here are some examples: “We pay homage to Allah with death”, “The flag of tawhid [in the Islamic culture, this term means “the concept of the unity and oneness of Allah”, AN] will be raised with our blood and the word of Allah will be supreme. “By the will of Allah” and the phrase “sign servant of Allah Mounir Barhoumi”.
The process of radicalisation and self-training undertaken by Barhoumi had probably reached its final step – that of “jihadisation” – in which the individual himself is ready to plan and carry out attacks, probably aspiring to become a shahid (martyr). This could be confirmed by looking at his online research concerning methods of preparation and construction of explosives, such as Molotov firebombs or ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate-Fuel Oil) type bombs, as well as the aforementioned combat and escape techniques.
The actions carried out by the defendant constituted valid evidence for the sentence expressed by the court, since – as already stated in the precautionary custody order – they can be included in the category of “significant behaviors on a material level” and, therefore, it is sufficient to accuse whoever carried them out of the charge sanctioned by article 270 quinquies of the Italian Criminal Code.
Establishing a sentence reduction, the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Bologna did not accept the request of the General Prosecutor’s Office to confirm the first instance judgement, as well as the request for release made by the defense attorneys.