Is it time for the laws on terrorism to change in Italy?

Is it time for the laws on terrorism to change in Italy?

The sentence against Luca Traini highlights the legal vacuum. White suprematism and lone wolves are not covered by national rules

Post praising Luca Traini on social media On April 29, the reasons for the sentence were presented that on March 29 confirmed the 12-year sentence for massacre aggravated by racial reasons for Luca Traini. It was February 3, 2018 when Traini, leaving his home in Tolentino, in the province of Macerata, drove through the streets of the Marche city shooting at eye level at anyone with black skin.

At the end of his Traini tour injured six people. He also fired at the local branch of the Democratic Party and said immediately and repeatedly over time that he had acted to avenge the murder of Pamela Mastropietro, the young Roman who died just five days earlier in Macerata at the hands of the drug dealer Innocent Oseghale.

Traini was 28 at the time and after the massacre he became the idol of the far right online. An investigation by Simone Fontana on Wired and the Buco Nero podcast explained that Traini has become a source of inspiration for supremacists around the world. The most striking example is perhaps that of Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch bomber who had written the name of the Macerata massacre on the magazines of the weapon he used to kill more than fifty Muslims gathered in prayer in the mosque of the New Zealand city. >
Although the act was aimed at indiscriminately killing anyone with black skin and strong ideological and political motivations, Luca Traini has never been accused or tried for terrorism. The reason is simple: according to Italian law, Traini's cannot be a terrorist act. But this creates an ethical and political problem, even before a legal one.

Terrorists on the internet

In the last fifteen years, international terrorism has changed a lot. The role of subversive organizations has shrunk and the phenomenon of the so-called lone wolves has grown exponentially, that is, terrorists who act without joining or receiving any kind of support from organized groups. Much of these changes are due to the spread of the internet and in particular of sites (for example imageboards) or applications (such as Telegram) that allow anonymous individual or group communications and make it almost impossible to track both what is said and what is said. identity of the writer.

The Internet has made the so-called radicalization path almost invisible, that is the use of propaganda content that leads to the extremeization of the individual. While in the previous decades the radicalization took place mainly within cultural circles, social centers or party sections (sometimes clandestine), today most terrorists receive training online, while connecting from their homes.

All this not only makes police operations extremely complex, but has also led to profound changes in social relations within terrorist groups. Barbara Lucini, sociologist and researcher at the Itstime center of the Catholic University of Milan, explains to Wired that the internet has marked such a large turning point in the phenomenon of international terrorism that it has led to an obsolescence of the regulatory system. "Italy experienced terrorism in a systematic way during the Years of Lead, and although it has been updated over time, the legislation is still very much affected by that historical approach", he observes.

Italian legislation

Specifically, the Italian criminal code in article 270 bis punishes with imprisonment from seven to fifteen years "whoever promotes, establishes, organizes, directs or finances associations that aim to commit acts of violence with the of terrorism or subversion of the democratic order ". Furthermore, the confiscation of "the things that served or were destined to commit the crime and of the things that are the price, the product, the profit or that constitute the use" is foreseen against the condemned person.

As Paolo Iafrate, professor of criminal law at the University of Tor Vergata, explains to Wired, starting from 2016 in Italy the financing crimes of terrorist activities and the so-called nuclear terrorism are also punished, and a new hypothesis of mandatory confiscation for any crime committed for terrorist purposes. The previous year, in 2015, a decree-law had already been approved, which was then converted into law which not only gave the National Anti-Mafia Directorate and the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor the additional powers in the field of anti-terrorism, but also introduced new types of crime . In particular, the penalties envisaged for those who are trained have also been extended to those who train themselves and the penalties for those who commit acts “by means of IT or telematic tools” have been increased. All of this, explains Iafrate, "had the aim of punishing even the so-called lone wolves, and on the whole showed a certain political sensitivity towards the new terrorism".

And the white supremacists?

However, the Macerata massacre seems to have highlighted a legislative vacuum. A strongly political act aimed at killing random targets has in fact managed to evade the legislation because, explains Iafrate, "there is no organization. That is, Traini was in no way a member of any organization nor was he enlisted or trained through material disclosed online or offline ".

Lucini stresses that this" shows that we are still firm in the idea that terrorism is needed a form of associationism, when this is no longer the case. At the European level there is no univocal definition of terrorism, and even today each country uses different references ”. Both in Italy and in Europe, anti-terrorism regulations have begun to be modified and strengthened in the aftermath of the Islamist attacks. Therefore, the changes made have led to an exacerbation to the detriment of this type of terrorism but seem not to have involved violence of a supremacist nature, which instead more often than the Islamist one is completely free from pre-established organizations defined as terrorist. For Lucini "in Italy there is an underestimation of far-right terrorism and we tend to think of terrorists only as religious extremists". To give an example, the 2019 report released by the Department of Penitentiary Administration (Dap) highlights the presence of some training courses organized to combat radicalization in prison. Of the six issues addressed during these courses, two are theoretical, one operational and three directly mention Islam or religious issues. "Even the manuals for the Italian police forces - adds Lucini - speak of terrorism as a phenomenon linked exclusively to Islam".

Political and administrative underestimation does not, however, coincide with an investigative underestimation tout court. Both the secret services and the prevention police in Italy are in fact very well aware of the danger represented by white supremacism, as also told by the director of the prevention police Eugenio Spina in the podcast Black Hole. And from here comes a strong contradiction: supremacists are often the object of investigation by counter-terrorism, even if they are almost never accused of crimes related to terrorism.

The data proves this. As of 31 December 2020, the Dap reported the presence of 79 people detained for crimes related to terrorism: of these 46 (i.e. 58%) are attributable to Islamist terrorism, while another 32 are in prison for national terrorism (mainly active persons during the Years of Lead) and only one for international terrorism. "These are data that demonstrate a political underestimation of right-wing extremism that could, however, be overcome with cultural tools - says Lucini -. After a cultural action one could certainly imagine an adaptation of the anti-terrorism legislation that is more aware of the new forms of terrorism in the digital age ".

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Internet Politics Social media Social Network Islamic State Terrorism online violence globalData .fldTopic = "Internet, Politics, Social Media, Social Networks, Islamic State, Terrorism, Online Violence"

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