Rome, July 27 (IANS/AKI) Police in northwest Italy on Wednesday arrested two Moroccans accused of recruiting on social media for the Islamic State and of proselytizing for the jihadist group.
Cell phones, cocaine, 5,000 euros in cash and ID documents were seized from the suspects who were arrested at locations in the province of Savona in Italy’s Liguria region, police said.
The Moroccans were held after an investigation triggered by a WhatsApp message from a Moroccan cell phone which a 15-year-old girl mistakenly received, according to police.
The girl reported the WhatsApp message to police after she noticed that the sender’s profile showed a fighter pointing a machine gun at the camera.
A third Moroccan suspect is under investigation after anti-terrorism police opened a probe.
The three suspects are aged between 27 and 44, have been resident in Italy for “several years” and have previous police records for drug dealing, assault and fraud, investigators said.
The suspects created a string of false Facebook profiles using mobile phone numbers registered in other people’s names as well as profiles on Arabic language websites.
Besides closely monitoring the suspects’ social media activities online, investigators also wiretapped their phone conversations, police said.
Following the recent spate of attacks in France and Germany, Italy is on ‘level two’ terror alert, the highest possible in the absence of a direct attack.
Close to 100 terrorism suspects have been expelled from Italy since the beginning of 2015.