Violent Jihad

The Italian Mafia and ISIS: Friends, Enemies or Frenemies?

Italy’s organized-crime syndicates in southern Italy make a healthy profit off of jihadists.

BY Bruce Cornibe · | October 19, 2016

What happens when Italian organized crime meets Islamic terrorism? Let’s just say in their quest for world domination ISIS doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned. ISIS and the Italian mafia have found another area for trade cooperation – ISIS supplies ancient artifacts and receives weapons in return, the Libyan Express explains:

The Italian mafia is selling rifles and other forms of weapons to IS leaders in Libya, Italian newspaper, La Stampa has reported.

The Italian newspaper said Monday that the Italian mafia is giving IS weapons in return for looted archaeological treasures and artefacts.

“After getting them from Libya, the suspected Ndrangheta gangsters sell on the priceless artefacts to Russian and Asian collectors.” La Stampa added.

It also indicated that the Calabrian network, which dominates Europe’s drug trade, works with the Camorra in Naples to buy Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers smuggled out of Ukraine and Moldova by the Russian mafia.

“The arms are then traded in return for ancient Roman and Greek statues that IS fighters have dug up illegally in Libya.” La Stampa proceeded.

More details of the illegal trade activities and the actors involved are as follows:

“A journalist from La Stampa posed as a collector to be taken to a salami factory in southern Italy by a member of an ‘Ndrangheta clan from Lamezia in Calabria. For $87,000 he was offered the marble head of a Roman sculpture looted from Libya.” The newspaper said, adding that the Mafioso also showed photographs of a larger head from a Greek statue, for sale at $1.2 million.

“Antiquities are brought from Libya to the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro by Chinese-operated cargo ships, it is claimed. The treasures are sold on to collectors from Russia, China, Japan and the Gulf. After expanding into Libya, IS has been pinned back by local militias. The IS radicals, however, are believed to have tried to profit from trafficking in artefacts, as they have done in Iraq and Syria.” Reported the Australian from the La Stampa newspaper.

It’s no secret that ISIS has been involved in the business of selling ancient artifacts to try and raise revenue for their terror machine – as well as engaging in even more despicable acts such auctioning off female sex slaves. Besides the artefacts business, there are allegations that ISIS and the mafia are complicit in the drug trade – smuggling cannabis from North Africa to Europe. The opportunity for even more business between the two is revealed in a Daily Beast article that states:

Carlo Tombolo, the scientific director of Italy’s Observatory on Small Arms, says Italy’s organized-crime syndicates in southern Italy make a healthy profit on terrorists. “Cells linked to Islamic extremism can only pass through areas such as Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, and Campania, but they are not allowed to stop,” he told The Daily Beast. “The Camorra, the ’Ndrangheta, and the Mafia, if anything, can only gain from their transit.”

Italy is a major target for ISIS – one reason is the symbolic significance of Rome and the Vatican. Of course, Italian crime gangs aren’t going to allow ISIS to impinge on their control of the area without major resistance. Italian mobsters not only can benefit from profiting off of ISIS but by improving their image with the Italian government by providing invaluable help to the authorities in regards to preventing ISIS attacks as one leading mobster alludes to:

…Giovanni Gambino, a key figure in the Gambino crime mob, has vowed to protect the Italian people fom [sic] the crazed jihadis.

He said: “We make sure our friends and families are protected from extremists and terrorists, especially the brutal, psychopathic organisation that calls itself the Islamic State.

“The authorities often act too late or fail to see a complete picture of what’s happening due to a lack of human intelligence.

“The Mafia has a bad reputation, but much of that’s undeserved.

“As with everything in life, there are good, bad and ugly parts – the rise of global terrorism gives the Mafia a chance to show its good side.”

New York mobsters have also issued their own threat to ISIS, warning the religious fanatics will be hunted down and killed if they carry out any atrocities on US soil.

This is not the first time we have seen ISIS work with groups involved in organized crime. For example, the drug cartels in Mexico have been accused of helping ISIS operatives penetrate the U.S./Mexico border to stake out potential terror attacks. One such operative, Shaykh Mahmood Omar Khabir, is apparently training “thousands of men—mostly Syrians and Yemenis—to fight in an ISIS base situated in the Mexico-U.S. border region near Ciudad Juárez[.]” It’s troubling to know that our U.S. government isn’t doing more to remedy the situation. Should we even be surprised that ISIS has these kinds of unusual alliances? Not really. ISIS and their underground network of criminal partners provides a glimpse into the reality that even for Islamic terror groups who commit their viscous acts in the name of Islam in order to survive long-term, one essentially has to be complicit in the business of the black market. Some other examples of this phenomenon include: the Taliban making money off of the heroin trade, Hezbollah and their linkage to money laundering and counterfeiting, among many others. Even though relationships with infidel groups and involvement in illicit activities like drug trafficking can harm jihadist groups’ Islamic image, it appears to be a necessity to achieving their higher goal of a world governed by Sharia law.



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