Last November’s Malta-bound Syrian was affiliated to ISIS
A Syrian national was sentenced to three years imprisonment for international terrorism on Friday after he was caught attempting to fly to Malta on 17 November 2015, in the lead up to last November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Valletta Migration Summit.
The Syrian, who turned 18 last month, had attempted to travel to Malta with a fake Austrian passport along with a 30-yearold Syrian who is still to be tried on similar charges.
The prosecutor of the juvenile court of Brescia, Simonetta Bellaviti, had requested a sentence of three years and two months, as he was considered to have been an ISIS affiliate.
Immediately after sentencing, the young man blurted out in disbelief: “It’s not fair, I have not done anything.”
According to the indictment, the now 18-year-old had trained for ISIS; he had a photo of his dead brother in an ISIS uniform on his mobile phone at the time of his arrest, and he was travelling with another Syrian who also had photos of himself in an ISIS uniform on his mobile phone.
His lawyer had argued that he had been a model prisoner since he was arrested almost a year ago, and that he had saved the life of a cellmate who had attempted suicide. His lawyer also argued that on the same mobile phone there was a video ridiculing ISIS and that his brother had been forced to enlist in the Islamic State, and that it had been ISIS operatives that had sent him the photo of his dead brother in ISIS gear.
In the meantime, the 18-yearold’s travelling companion is also facing charges and is still to be tried.
In court last month, the 31year-old’s defence did not deny the accusation of internatio0nal terrorism and instead argued that he could not be tried in Italy for terrorism offences he allegedly committed in another country, in this case Syria.
The oldest of the pair is facing charges of international terrorism. According to Italian prosecutor Silvia Bonardi, he “participated in the ISIS international terrorist organisation with the scope of committing violent acts of terrorism in the European Union, where, more precisely, he formed part of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s police corps, he carried a falsified passport on Italian territory which he was to use to reach Malta, from where he could have likely travelled to other EU destinations”. He also faces charges of entering Europe to recruit terrorists.
Mr Faowaw had initially only been charged with being in possession of a false passport, but after Italian investigators reviewed photographs on his phone of a flag bearing the Islamic State motto and him in Islamic State gear, they suspected that he formed part of the Islamic State. Three of the six board members of the Development Control Design Policy Board 2015 are “among the most dangerous architects in Malta”, environmentalist Astrid Vella told The Malta Independent’s interview programme, INDEPTH, this week.
President of Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar Mrs Vella said that one of those sitting on the DC 2015 board, has two court cases related to malpractice. When pressed by presenter Rachel Attard to name who these architects are, Mrs Vella refused to divulge the names but asked why the authorities chose to have these people making the most controversial policies.
Mrs Vella said she had been in favour of a demerger in MEPA, and supported the idea because she believed that the environment would be given a bigger voice.
“What we have now with the MEPA demerger is not a reform, but a step back into the dark ages. We were in favour of a demerger because of the sorry state MEPA was in. We wanted to see the split because we always noted that the environment was ignored when compared to development.”
She said the FAA was always very clear – that MEPA should be split so that the environmental authority would be given more prominence.
Mrs Vella said that her motivation was never inspired by any political affiliation and explained that her presence on the Labour Party media before the 2013 election, was due to the fact that FAA was ‘banned’ from appearing on PBS and Net Television.
“When Net Television invited me to their station after the 2013 election, I went to meet the head of station and introduced myself as this was the first time we had ever been invited. You have to understand that we always attended programmes to which we were invited.”
Pressed on her political affiliation with the Labour Party before the election, Mrs Vella said, “I challenge anyone to find one time when I officially supported the Labour Party.”
Ms Attard then gave Mrs Vella a print out of a copy showing Mrs Vella’s commenting on a Labour Party campaign leaflet which was distributed with a local newspaper. Mrs Vella claimed that she was never asked permission for her comments to be published, saying that this goes against the NGO’s statute.
She said that it is part of the Maltese mentality to believe that someone is supporting a particular political party simply because they appear on its station.
“Unfortunately, politics in Malta simply boils down to the mentality that if you are not with us, then you’re against us. Nowadays, we appear on the
When he first appeared in court, the 31-year-old said that he had suffered at the hands of the Islamic State when jihadists took over the town of Raqqa in Syria. He testified that he had returned to Raqqa after living in Greece for two years, where he also played for an amateur football team.
He claimed he had been forced to work as a police officer and that he was later accused of corruption and sentenced to a fine and 100 lashes.
More Syrians headed for Malta awaiting trial
The pair were two of four Syrians caught with fake passports before boarding planes bound for Malta last November. The two had been caught in Bergamo and another two at Rome’s Ciampino airport. The incidents sparked terrorism fears before the two major events that had brought dozens of world leaders to Malta last November.
The Italian authorities believe the Somali arrested last summer, who is being charged with aiding illegal immigration and aiding international terrorism suspects, was responsible for providing logistical support to the four Syrians caught last November before boarding planes bound for Malta with fake passports.
The Somali is believed to be a key member of a migrant trafficking ring that had brought as many as 250 people, mainly of Syrian and Somali nationalities, to Malta.
It was the anti-terrorism prosecutors in the northern Italian town of Brescia that had requested the man’s arrest, alleging he supplied false documents to various people for entry into Italy and other European countries including Malta.
Italian police said that the Somali man – identified as Ali Awil Khadar, born on 1 January 1985 – was detained on suspicions of aiding illegal immigration and of also assisting persons involved in terrorist associations.
He was also found in possession of Malta-issued travel papers for political refugees, as well as a suspected fake Maltese passport, according to Italian media reports.
Images released by the Italian authorities showed the Somali suspect at Bergamo airport travelling right behind the two Syrians who had been stopped at passport control.
The Somali, unlike the Syrians he was escorting, managed to board the plane and come to Malta. A massive manhunt was then mounted for the Somali in Malta but he must have eluded the Maltese police and somehow managed to return to Italy, where he was eventually arrested.
A photo of the 30-year-old Syrian being taken into custody last November