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Italy busts ‘jihadist’ smuggling ring bringing migrants from Tunisia in high-speed boats

Italy busts ‘jihadist’ smuggling ring bringing migrants from Tunisia in high-speed boats

Italian authorities have arrested 13 suspects in a high-speed migrant trafficking ring operating between Tunisia and Sicily whose members espoused radical jihadist views.

Italian financial police in Sicily said Tuesday that a wiretapped conversation between two traffickers revealed one saying he intended to travel to France and carry out a suicide attack and asking for prayers.

The trafficking group allegedly organized transport from the Tunisian port of Nabeul to Trapani in Sicily aboard rubber dinghies equipped with high-speed outboard motors and trained navigators for 3,000 euros to 5,000 euros (£2,600 – £4,300) per person.

The traffickers also carried contraband cigarettes for a total value per trip of up to 70,000 euros (£60,000), with the capacity to run two trips a week.

Police said the suspects were Italian, Tunisian and Moroccan.

In a similar case last June, Palermo magistrates arrested 15 people who were suspected of organising at least five crossings between Tunisia and Sicily, earning an estimated 40,000 euros (£34,850) for each trip.