nicola ferrara

Nicola Ferrara

Nicola Ferrara, born on 12th May 1982 in Canosa di Puglia, in the province of Bari and originally from San Ferdinando di Puglia, in the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, emigrated to Milan in 2010 with his family.
Previously, he served a period of voluntary service in the Air Force, enlisting in 2001 in the “Arma Azzurra” and, subsequently, in the Army’s “Lancieri di Montebello” division, also participating in the “DIE” peacekeeping mission in Albania.

On July 7th, 2020, Nicola Ferrara was arrested and taken to San Vittore prison, where he experienced a brief period of confinement owing to his compliance with a summary judgment, after the Court of Milan issued an order for his detention on June 29th 2020 under charges of “promoting terrorism” and “inciting acts of terrorism with jihadist origins” in support of the Islamic State (IS). The court’s directive for preventive detention asserted that the defendant was actively involved in propagating extremist beliefs through both virtual and physical means, encompassing online platforms and offline locations. After his arrest, at the end of February 2021, the Preliminary Hearing Judge of the Court of Milan ratified a two-year plea bargain with suspended sentence and non-mentioning in the criminal record against Nicola Ferrara, following his declarations of repentance and turning away from IS propaganda.

The investigation on Ferrara started in February 2018, while monitoring and observating the reality gravitating around the “al Nur” cultural association in Milan, which had become a place of Islamic worship and aggregation. Initially considered a completely anonymous person, Ferrara became a subject of interest when, on the afternoon of 14th February 2018, he was seen at the centre in the company of Lunghi Christian and Marga Wail, two minors already under surveillance. Following the collection of elements against Ferrara, it was discovered that the man presented himself under the Islamised name ‘ISSA’, as well as being part of a circuit of individuals suspected of associations for the purposes of terrorism or aggravated incitement to terrorism. The boys were subjected to a process of indoctrination that involved the practice of itikaf, wherein individuals would spend time in a mosque, dedicating themselves to Ibada, the worship of Allah, after completing their obligatory prayers. According to Islamic teachings, Itikaf plays a significant role in purifying a believer’s soul from any forbidden behavior. During this period, Ferrara would join fellow believers for theological discussions, while also conveying messages of a radical nature, highlighting the allure of the Islamic faith. The objective was to help young people understand that the decision to embrace Islam arises from a profound and personal desire to follow Allah’s guidance. It was also emphasized that the relationship between the believer and the Creator doesn’t require intermediaries and is deeply intimate.
Among the main interlocutors of the suspect were in fact Temri Karim, Halili El Madhi and Hammani Ghassen, later found to be the person who converted and radicalised Nicola Ferrara. However, Ferrara’s journey of becoming radicalised started back in 2014 and appears to have been initially influenced by his visits to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, stays devoted to the search for a way of life more in line with his religious beliefs, as well as aimed at gaining more authority in the Italian Islamic community. He underwent a slow but considerable alteration as a result of these encounters, demonstrated by the fact that, at his return in Italy, he deleted the Soundcloud app in order to avoid it being discovered at the airport’s entry.
Ferrara’s constant and intense correspondence with Ouaadil Yassine on the one hand and with Ziaul Rashed on the other, demonstrates the suspect’s gradual radicalisation and subsequent deep inner adherence to radical Islam, complemented by an evident frustration linked to the alleged persecution of the Muslim religion in Western countries and a complete understanding of the full meaning of the contents of the nasheed, demonstrating his learning of the Arabic language. Also prominent was the methodical and constant practice of dissimulation, in jargon called taqiyya, representing the justification of deception towards non-Muslims. This conduct is represented by “dressing like them”, implemented on the occasion of trips taken by the suspect abroad, with a gradual change in the way of dressing, going from the ostentation of typical clothes to a return to Western-type clothes, in order to evade attention from third parties. In fact, his social profiles reveal a conscious willingness to propagandise and incite adherence to the doctrine and practice of the Islamic State, driven by an autonomous radical thought aimed at racial discrimination and extreme radicalisation. The most important engagement on social media concerns the use of Facebook, where he had built a solid and wide relational circuit, confirming the breadth of his circle of acquaintances, in which he enjoyed a certain authoritativeness, achieved through an intense and long-standing propaganda work, an activity certified by the almost unanimously praising comments on his activity as a disseminator on the aforementioned platform. The use of Facebook was assiduously flanked by the use of Soundcloud, platform on which he created playlists for sharing purposes, with the sole purpose of disseminating a particular type of file, containing ‘Nasheed’, i.e. songs extolling violent Jihad and the Islamic State.

It is necessary to emphasise how the role of propagandist assumed by Nicola Ferrara was such as to favour and produce adhesions to the terrorist war declared by ISIS, through a symbology of jihadist terrorism including images of Osama Bin Laden, the Twin Towers, the so-called Caliph al-Baghdadi, and whose reticulated structure made recruitment possible also through forms of communication such as the internet, favoured by a simple, repetitive and declamatory work of suggestion and persuasion adopted by the suspect.

In essence, Ferrara was not perceived as a mere convert to Islam, but rather as an individual who had chosen to commit his life to the Islamic faith with a radical perspective. This commitment was evident through his sharing of Islamic State ideals and his admiration for its key figures. His stays in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates further emphasized this dedication. His actions can be classified as an attempt to engage in international terrorism, aligning with the definition outlined in Article 270sexies of the Criminal Code.