Italian authorities have deported a Moroccan imam known to be a Muslim extremist for “reasons of public order and state security.”
The 51-year-old Salafi Imam Mohammed Madad, who had named his own daughter “Jihad,” was expelled from the country on Tuesday evening by order of Italy’s Ministry of the Interior, and may not apply for a visa to return to the country for the next 15 years.
Italian counterterrorism units (DIGOS) had had the man under surveillance because of his allegedly radical profile, and lately his sermons had taken on an increasingly radicalized, violent and anti-Western tone, according to local reports. Based on the content of his rhetoric, authorities feared that the man could also facilitate international terrorism.
Some six months ago Madad became leader of the Center for Prayer and Islamic Culture in the northern Italian city of Noventa Vicentina, but security officials already had him on their radar prior to his move.
Italy has been proposed as a model for counterterrorism for the whole world, in part because of its willingness to deport radicalized individuals seen as a threat to national security.
Last fall, leading military analyst Edward N. Luttwak commended the Italian model, arguing that Italy has been successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts because of its swift and decisive action.
In an essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak noted that despite many factors going against Italy, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil. He contrasted Italy with France and Belgium, observing that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.
While France has been “caught by surprise again and again by terrorist attacks with many lives lost” and in Belgium “terrorists have been coming and going for years, buying military weapons with remarkable ease,” Italy has remained unscathed, Luttwak said.
And even though the Vatican is the “most iconic target in Europe,” and tops the list of objectives of the Islamic State, “nobody has been killed by Muslim terrorists in Italy,” he said.
Luttwak argued that Italy’s success has been a question of method, based on the insight that the only thing that can be done to stop potential terrorists is to subject suspected jihadists to around the clock surveillance so that they can be arrested or killed at a moment’s notice.
Since the numbers of probable suspects can be astronomical, Luttwak added, their numbers must be effectively reduced if this strategy is to bear fruit. And this is exactly what Italy has done.
While other European nations monitor suspects, filling out reports and keeping files, they often fail to take needed action. The Italians, however, immediately conduct an interrogation on credible suspects, and many are sent home or arrested, if their situation merits it. In this case, they are imprisoned or deported.
Employing this method, Italian authorities are able to keep numbers of suspected potential terrorists within a reasonable range and thus are able to monitor them effectively.
The fact that the Italians lump together anti-mafia operations with counterterrorism under their DIGOS agency is also telling. Italy has a long history fighting serious organized crime within its borders, coming from the different branches of the Italian mafia working in various parts of the peninsula.
In the light of the recent spate of attacks in France and Germany, it may be time for other European authorities to take a long, hard look at the Italian model.