[Ed. – The secret revealed]
“You. Kafir [Infidel]. Remember this,” says a masked figure, wagging his finger at the camera. “We will be in Rome, inshallah.” His threat, from 10,000km away, may be far-fetched. The attraction for jihadists of an attack on the seat of Western Christendom is certainly not. So it is remarkable that Italy should not have experienced a single deadly jihadist attack when Britain, France, Germany and Spain have all been targeted—not least because it undermines the argument for a link between illegal immigration and terrorism (in the first half of 2017, Italy accounted for 82% of unauthorised arrivals in Europe).
The most colourful explanation for the Italian exception is that Italy’s mafias have quietly deterred jihadists from gaining a toehold. The defect of that idea, says Arturo Varvelli of the Milan-based Institute for International Political Studies, a think-tank, is that Italy’s mobsters exert greater control in the south, whereas a sizeable majority of its Muslims live in the north.
“To some extent, it is the Mafia,” says a senior law-enforcement official. “But not in the way most people mean.” The fight against Italy’s formidably organised criminals has given its police a wealth of experience in monitoring tightly knit target groups.