According to Italy’s top prosecutor Franco Roberti, ongoing investigations point to co-operation between the Islamic State and Italian mobsters who are reportedly smuggling cannabis together through Libya.
The main smuggling route for North African hashish now runs from Casablanca (Morocco), through Algeria, Tunisia to the Libyan city of Sirte, said the country’s foremost anti-mafia and anti-terrorism chief Franco Roberti.
The port city of Sirte now serves as a de facto Mediterranean base for the most powerful Islamic State (IS) branch outside Syria and Iraq. An estimated 6.000 ISIS fighters are present in Libya.
“Certainly IS controls the Libya cannabis route; it controls the coast along the Gulf of Sirte,” said Roberti in his frescoed office in the 17th century building that once served as the Vatican prison.
In investigations whose details have not yet been made public, police have found evidence that Italian organized crime, which has long controlled most of the country’s illegal drug supplies, and “suspected terrorists” in North Africa are trafficking hash together, Roberti said.
Although ISIS is officially opposed to drugs as propagated by the Shariah (Islamic law), their fighters are seemingly in desperate need of new sources of income.
Italy has not been attacked by Islamist militants, but ISIS propaganda films regularly mention Rome and the Vatican as possible targets. Many Italian sites are considered at high risk of attacks, Roberti said.