Italy: Tunisian Inmate Pushing Peers for Jihad Convicted

A Tunisian man locked up for minor offenses, has been convicted for pushing fellow inmates to travel to Syria for jihad.

The man aged 34 and married to an Italian converted Muslim woman has been convincing other inmates to travel to Syria once they finish observing their prison terms, local media quoted Augusto Zaccariello, a security official of the detention center, as saying.

Identified as Saber Hmidi, the inmate was born in Tunisia and has been living in Italy for several years. Hmidi was arrested and locked up in 2011 over a drug affair.

His radicalization started during his prison spell, press reports say. Freed, Hmidi returned to prison in 2014 after threatening law enforcement agents with a gun following discovery of anoraks, latex gloves in his car.

During the search of his house, investigators discovered 33 cell phones, 8 personal computers as well a black flag bearing the logo of Ansar al-Charia terrorist group affiliated to al-Qaeda. The group has been active in Tunisia since 2011.

Hmidi was handed a three-year and eight-month sentence but he has become a thorny issue for prison officials who have complained about his brutal attitude towards other inmates and guards.

He has been transferred several times to prevent him from influencing other inmates.

Hmidi however had no terror plan in Italy though he intended to travel to Syria. Security forces have been investigating his contacts inside and outside Italy.

Italy has not witnessed any terror attack but authorities have expanded arrest operations of suspect terrorists across the country.

Berlin Christmas alleged attacker, Tunisian Anis Amri, was killed in Milan after running away from Germany.

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