Number of unofficial mosques in Rome being used as breeding grounds for Islamic extremists doubles in ten years

A new report by Italy's interior ministry shines a light on the growing threat of Islamic extremism in the Italian capital

FILE - Muslims during prayer at a Rome mosque. (Credit: Shutterstock)
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

The number of unofficial mosques in the Italian capital of Rome being monitored by Italy’s counter-terror agency has nearly doubled in the last 10 years as prayer sites preaching fundamental Islamic teachings encroach on Italian society.

According to a new report by Italy’s interior ministry, a total of 53 unofficial Muslim prayer sites, located in basements and garages across the city, have been identified and are under surveillance for Islamist activity.

This figure has risen from the 30 unofficial mosques flagged a decade ago.

“These hidden places of worship are where radicalization lurks and where, camouflaged among the faithful, those lone wolves who have too often become martyrs of the holy war,” writes Italian news outlet ll Tempo.

The dossier revealed there could be over 100 regular meeting points for Muslims across the city that are not registered as official places of worship, with fears over the nature of such rendezvous amid the rising threat of Islamic terror in Europe.

According to the report, the unofficial prayer sites located in warehouses and residential apartments, are categorized by intelligence agencies into three levels of terror threat: no risk, medium risk, and increased risk.

Currently, over half of the sites are constantly monitored because they are considered medium or high risk.

Anti-terror operations in Italy often include surveillance of the dark web for Islamist propaganda and communications, wiretaps on suspicious premises, and the review of texts and speeches being preached by imams in the unofficial mosques.

In a recent documentary published by Italian news program Fuori dal Coro, undercover journalists visited some of these unofficial prayer sites located around the country during the month-long celebration of Ramadan to evaluate the nature of the preachings and the content being shared.

In the film titled, “Immigrants and Violence, The Muslims Who Hate Italy,” one journalist frequented one such location in the Via Padova area of Milan where one visitor to the mosque boasted how “it is written in the Quran that we are going to kick the Jews out.”

It isn’t just the Jews these radical Islamists are targeting, however. When asked whether Muslims would soon conquer the Western world, the man replied, “Yes, yes. The first place will be Italy because Italy is very close to Islam. Italy has a good heart.”

“Just look at the churches, a few elderly people, five here, five there,” he added, contrasting the demise in church congregations with the exponential rise in Muslim prayer sites across the country.

There have been several instances recently where terror suspects have been detained in Italy, including last October when an Egyptian and an Italian citizen of Egyptian descent where accused of being members of the Islamic State.

More recently on April 8, Italian authorities detained Tajikistan national, Ilkhomi Sayrakhmonzoda, a suspected member of the Islamic State splinter group ISPK as he attempted to enter the country from the Netherlands.

The man was wanted by Interpol for suspected involvement in the planning of terror attacks on European soil. His intended business in Italy remains unknown.

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