Last Novem­ber’s Malta-bound Syr­ian was af­fil­i­ated to ISIS

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

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