Suma Arben

Suma Arben was born in Shkup, Macedonia, on the 18th of October 1985. Albeit being born in Macedonia, his family is from Kosovo and ethnically Albanian and religiously Muslim. His brother was killed by a mine during the Kosovo War, and during that same conflict, his father fought in the UCK against the Serbs. In Italy, he lived in the town of Arzignano, in the province of Vicenza, where he worked at a leather-processing factory.

Arben came under special attention by Italian authorities in December 2015, when a joint operation by Kosovar and Italian law enforcement discovered that he might have had links to a Jihadist cell headed by Kosovar citizen Imishti Samet. Arben was, in fact, “friends” on Facebook with Samet. Despite the defence stating that interaction between Arben and Samet was “practically non-existent” during a court hearing in January 2016, investigations of his profile highlighted evidence of his radicalisation.

Interviewed by journalists, Arben maintained that he was not a radical Islamist, that his family did not follow integralist precepts (his wife did not wear the hijab and worked in a bar serving alcohol), and that his comments were partially taken out of context.

Nonetheless, through his Facebook profile, he participated in a group which engaged in Islamic State propaganda. Since January 2014 he shared posts praising the role of mujahideen and the caliphate and he shared quotes from the book “Instruction on Those that Insult the Prophet” which states the legitimacy of killing the people who offended the Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, on the day of the terrorist attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Arben shared a post seemingly supporting the killing.

In light of the online evidence, on the 8th of January 2016, Suma Arben was put under a special surveillance regime, limiting his freedom of movement to the province of Vicenza, establishing a curfew, and limiting his ability to participate in public meetings. Interestingly Arben was apparently favourable to the impositions, as he felt increased hostility after his case became public.

In May 2018 Arben’s lawyer requested the termination of the surveillance regime on the basis of his good behaviour and alleged integration, he had in fact recently renewed his residence permit. The investigative division of the police on the other hand reiterated that Arben represented a security risk and that while he had not posted new radical jihadist content, he had refused to eliminate previous posts and he had also refused to cooperate with the police regarding the radical milieus he associated with.
On the 18th of May 2018, the Court of Vicenza terminated the surveillance regime stating that the causes for its issuing did not exist anymore, but simultaneously gave the green light for the expulsion of Arben, as requested by the Prosecutor’s office. Suma Arben was subsequently expelled from Italy in July.