ROME (Reuters) – Italy on Monday arrested a 29-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker for supplying news and materials in support of Islamic State and who said those who do not believe in Islam “should have their throats cut”, police said.
A southern Italian court ordered the man’s arrest for conspiracy to commit international terrorism and inciting others to break the law, they said in a statement.
The man sought to convince other asylum seekers living in a state-funded shelter in the southern city of Crotone to “perpetrate acts of violence with terrorist objectives”, the police said.
“The Iraqi – considered violent and inclined toward criminal activity – had celebrated after the recent terrorist attack in Manchester,” they said, referring to a suicide bombing last month at a pop concert in the northern English city that killed 22 people.
In a recorded telephone conversation between the arrested man and his sister, he said he had been called to join the “holy war” in his country, but had decided instead to stay in Italy to “redeem the infidels” who “should have their throats cut”.
Police gave no further details and said they would elaborate on the case later in the day.
The case will fuel Italy’s increasingly bitter political debate over citizenship laws and the management of boat migrant arrivals ahead of a national election expected in the first half of next year.
Over the weekend, some 1,500 migrants were pulled from unsafe and overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya and are now being brought to Italy by rescue ships.
Italy is on the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis, especially after an agreement between the European Union and Turkey last year that virtually stopped boat crossings to Greece.
Half a million people, many of them Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, have come to Europe via Italy in the past three years, and boat arrivals are up more than 17 percent in 2017 on the previous year.
Almost 200,000 asylum seekers are living in Italian shelters as they wait to hear whether they qualify for international protection.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Gareth Jones)