Italy arrests Syrian IS suspect off refugee boat

Italian police have arrested a Syrian on suspicion of being a member of the so-called Islamic State (IS), clapping him in cuffs shortly after he arrived by boat along with hundreds of refugees, media reports said Monday.

The man, reportedly in his 20s, was arrested by officers in Sicily after Italy’s special operations division discovered incriminating material on his mobile phone.

The suspect had videos and photographs which appeared to be of IS attacks along with a text message which read “Allah is great, but ISIS is even better”, according to the reports.

The local Corriere di Ragusa daily said the images contained “corpses, wounds and lots of blood”.

The Syrian arrived on December 4 on a wooden fishing boat carrying 500 people, and had been staying at the reception centre in the southeastern Sicilian port before his arrest.

There have long been concerns in Italy and Europe of would-be jihadists entering the country and the rest of the continent on the rickety boats of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa.

At least one of the men involved in the Paris attacks last month, which left 130 people dead, is believed to have travelled through Italy on his way to France.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano praised police, describing the arrest as “proof of the prevention system’s efficiency”.

“Our work never stops, night nor day. We are on the ground with our best investigative teams and our best men”.

Since the Paris attacks, which were claimed by IS, there have been reports of a drop in the number of people attending crowded events or places in Italy — from Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican to shopping centres.

Rome’s Prefect Franco Gabrielli said it was necessary to “beat the fear which is gripping the city and the country in the fatalistic anticipation that something will happen”.

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