Rafaei Alaa

Rafaei Alaa was born in Egypt on the 24th of October 1979, he has been living in Italy for 23 years and holds Italian citizenship. He was arrested in Monza, where he lived, on the 17th of October 2023 on the charges of participating in a terrorist organisation and inciting violence.
His arrest came after online investigations by the police counter-terrorism section revealed intense propaganda and proselytising activities carried out by Rafaei since at least March 2020. The main platforms where this activity was conducted were WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook.
On these platforms, Rafaei posted, commented, and reacted to, a vast quantity of content relating directly to Islamic State. Some of those posts depicted ISIS flags, others were videos of executions (some of which carried out by children) or celebrations of terrorist attacks and killings of the enemies of ISIS. Some of the WhatsApp groups in question were identified as propaganda tools directly linked to jihadist networks, of which the participants numbered in the hundreds, mostly coming from the Middle East and North Africa, but with some also coming from northern Europe.
Rafaei’s activity was not limited to the sharing of material online. He has also sent “donations” to different people, most of whom are of Syrian origins, in Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey. it is important to notice that in late 2021 Rafaei also got in contact with, and sent money to “Sayad Abu Usama”, who the NCIS indicated as a member of ISIS. In the relative WhatsApp chat, Abu Usama states that the money needed was for the liberation of his sister and her kids from the Kurdish camp of Al-Hawl.
Rafaei’s radicalisation, the authorities note, was likely guided by his friend Nosair Gharib Hassan Nosair Mohamed, who introduced him to many of the groups previously mentioned; Rafaei started as a passive viewer and ended as an active participant in the propaganda machine. The process also probably intensified when Rafaei lost his job as a freelance in the construction sector in 2022 because of economic difficulties.
His radical views, further confirmed by his “oath” to the Islamic State (stated both online and during a phone call), also percolated in his family life. It was in fact found, through the chat between the two, that he was forcing his son to learn by heart some of the precepts of Islam. He had also reportedly told his wife not to shop at Carrefour, that being a French corporation, is complicit in France’s efforts against Islam.
In the last months, Rafaei was also reportedly looking at the possibility of moving to Turkey, a step usually linked to the subsequent joining to jihadist formations in Middle Eastern theatres.
In his interrogations, Rafaei stated that he had no intention of carrying out a terrorist attack in Italy and that he appreciated the liberty he enjoyed in the country. He added that his support to ISIS was limited to the jihadist organisation’s opposition to Assad’s regime in Syria. Lastly, he stated that the donations he made were simply done as charity to women in difficulty.
He has been denied house arrests and is currently awaiting trial in the prison of San Vittore.