After the last hotbed of resistance of the Islamic State (banned in Russia) in Baghuz fell, the West will more often encounter three main security problems: how to track mercenaries returning home, how to organize the return of refugees back to Syria and how to counter an extremely high level of radicalization of those of them who may become terrorists. Some European countries are solving these problems rather harshly, and what about Italy?
Here is what Claudio Bertolotti, an analysist at the Military Center for Strategic Studies (CeMiSS) and a researcher at the Euro-Maghreb Centre for Research and Strategic Studies (Cemres), says:
"The proliferation of the jihadist ideology, which the Islamic State is based on, has become viral. It is spread through two channels: on the one hand, it is the Internet, when the ideology uses social networks for propaganda and recruiting, and on the other hand, it is the attractiveness of jihadist veterans as personalities. If propaganda attacks can be at least partly contained at the virtual level, in reality the impossibility of ensuring the prosecution of jihadists who are returning home poses a direct national security threat." Such a threat is posed also by women who followed them and who have children from them.
At the same time, even if one manages to prosecute them, they will be able to recruit new supporters directly in prisons that are an ideal place for "contamination." The Italian analyst believes that it would be logical to follow the example of the United Kingdom that deprives Britons who voluntary went to Iraq and Syria of the citizenship. Fortunately, in Italy, the Ius Soli law on citizenship (it stipulates that citizenship can be given ONLY to people persecuted for political reasons) is an extremely effective tool of removing people who poses a national security threat from the country's territory.
Italy's contribution to combating real and potential terrorism after the end of armed conflicts in the Middle East is made by security forces – carabineers, police and detectives, their high professionalism, the broad network of offices across the country, and the ability to adapt depending on the direction of terrorists threats. Regretfully, Italy still has no special law on the prevention of Islamic radicalism and fight against this type of terrorism. In the previous convocation of the parliament a bill sponsored by MPs Dambruoso and Manciulli was approved by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate commissions, but later for unknown reasons Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso declined to put it for voting in the final reading.
Bertolotti speaks of two more problems. The first one is "ensuring operative capabilities, which means agents who are following people posing the threat of radicalization. If at least 3 police agents are needed to follow such a person given that he should be followed 24 hours a day during three 8-hour shifts, 90,000 policemen are needed. It is simply impossible to think about controlling all suspects. In Italy, there is a complicated system of prosecution and investigation and it is still possible to work efficiently, but this won't be forever.
The second problem is the transparency of national borders. Actually, there can be "phantom landings" when illegal migrants get by boats in small groups of 5-10 people who are able to pay really big money (4,000-8,000 euros) for their transportation from the Tunisian to the Italian coast, and here thanks to local criminal bosses they get forged documents (this is one of the famous side jobs in the regions of Apulia and Campania) which makes it easier for them to move across Italy and Europe."
Italy should protect itself from new flows of illegal migrants who are returning from Syria and who are transiting through Italy. After an attack in Milano's neighborhood of San Donato, where dozens of people could have been killed and that got broad media coverage, the Italians opened their eyes. Although there were terrorist attempts in the past, they didn't get a public outcry. In 2004, the attack at a MacDonald's restaurant in Brescia resulted in the death of the attacker.
In 2009, a terrorist was neutralized at army barracks in Milano's Santa Barbara. In 2018, a man who threw a bomb into a crowd of people was arrested. Bertolotti said that "Italy is suffering from terrorism, so far unorganized and unstructured, whose ideology and strategy could be traced from al-Qaeda to the Islamic State at a later stage. That is why it should take all possible legislative and police measures in order to avoid radicalization of terrorism that may become organized."