A convicted terrorist with links to ISIS and Al Qaeda was caught trying to smuggle into Europe posing as an asylum seeker. Mehdi Ben Nasr, 38, arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa last month on a refugee boat that had set sail from Libya.
The Telegraph reports that Mehdi was arrested in northern Italy in 2008 and sentenced to seven years in prison after he was found to be head of a terrorist cell with links to Al Qaeda. He was extradited to Tunisia following the conviction.
“Upon his arrest…police said they had seized poisons, remote explosive detonators and manuals on guerrilla warfare. He was captured then along with 13 Algerians and Tunisians across Europe as part of an anti-terrorism operation led by Italian authorities. Medhi’s seven-year sentence, based largely on 25 wiretaps, was confirmed by the Reggio Emilia appeal court in 2011,” the Independent reports.
Mehdi returned to Italy on October 4 under the assumed name of Mohamed Ben Sar, with false identity papers to back up his claim. He told authorities that he wanted to travel to northern Europe to be with relatives. However, officials became suspicious after meeting with him over a three day period, and then fingerprint records revealed his true identity.
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“During the arrest [last week], police found al-Qaeda manuals linked to the production of explosives and detonation devices. Just days before, he was heard giving advice and recommending contacts to a group of terrorists in Syria during an intercepted phone call,” according to the Telegraph. Among the intercepted calls was one made to terrorists in Damascus.
“German channel n-tv claims the Italian government initially tried to hide the story to avoid ‘panic’ and ‘scare tactics.’ The news did not emerge until several days after Mehdi had been detained last week,” Breitbart reports.
The Italian government deported the terrorist back to Tunisia, where he was handed over to authorities.
European government officials have feared that ISIS and other terrorist groups would use the refugee crisis to infiltrate their operatives into the continent. The BBC reported last spring that refugee boat operators in ISIS controlled areas must turn over up to half their earnings to the Islamic State, as well as smuggle fighters into Europe.