Italy’s anti-terrorism authority on Tuesday arrested an Egyptian national on suspicion of being a member of the so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
According to the Interior Ministry, the suspect has Italian citizenship and is charged with spreading IS propaganda aggravated by use of the internet.
“An Egyptian citizen… has been arrested for participation in and propaganda on behalf of the terrorist association known as IS,” Italian state police tweeted.
The man named by law enforcement as 59-year-old Mostafa Mohy is married to a 79-year-old Italian woman.
He lives in the southern city of Foggia where he runs an Islamic center called Al Dawa, which has been under surveillance for months.
The police said in July 2017, police arrested another suspected IS member who also attended the Al Dawa centre, Chechen national Eli Bombataliev, for criminal association with intent to commit acts of terrorism.
According to the finance police, on Tuesday, authorities raided the Al Dawa center and froze bank accounts totalling 370,000 euros (around 460,000 U.S. dollars), as well as assets that are “out of proportion with the declared income of the couple”.
“The anti-terrorism operation carried out today in Foggia, southern Italy, marks an important moment for Italy’s counter-terrorism,” analysts from the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) said.
“As the investigation showed, Egyptian national Abdel Rahman Mohy — a key figure inside Al Dawa — sought to proselytize children, making use of IS propaganda materials during lessons he held inside the mosque.
Children were taught to loathe ‘disbelievers’, and some of them were encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to (IS leader) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the think tank wrote.