Tunisian man held in Italy for suspected terrorist recruiter

Rome, Jan 11 (IANS) A Tunisian national is being held here for his role as an alleged recruiter for a terrorist group operating in Tunisia, Libya and Syria, Italian police said on Tuesday.

Saber Hmidi, 34, was notified of the arrest warrant in the Rebibbia prison in the Italian capital, where he was already serving a sentence for illegal weapons possession and assaulting a police officer, Xinhua reported.

The operation was carried out by the anti-terrorism DIGOS force in cooperation with prison police. Several raids were carried out in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, although no additional arrests were made.

Hmidi was thought to be an active member of the Ansar al-Sharia jihadist group and was believed to have operated as a recruiter in different jails in Italy, investigators told a press conference at police headquarters here.

“The investigation revealed his special ability to indoctrinate fellow prisoners in jail,” police also said in a statement.

The man had been living in Ciampino on the outskirts of Rome since 2008 and is married to an Italian woman who converted to Islam.

He was first arrested in November 2011 and again in 2014 for resisting a routine control and assaulting a police unit with a gun. He had never been charged in relation to terrorism before.