Italy has expelled a Tunisian man accused of religious extremism and befriending a jailed would-be foreign fighter, the country’s latest effort to crack down on the radicalization of young Muslims by getting rid of them.
The Interior Ministry said the 26-year old, identified by Italian newspapers as Marouan Mathlouthi, was sent back to Tunisia on Thursday. The ministry alleged he had befriended a fellow Tunisian who was arrested in 2015 on terrorism-related charges because of alleged plans to join the jihad in Iraq and Syria.
A ministry statement said Mathlouthi, who had lived in Italy since he was an infant and was married to an Italian, had jihadist propaganda on him and had written on his Facebook page, “I don’t know if I should be good or stage a massacre, I have to think about it.”
The expulsion, the second of the new year, brings to 134 the number of suspected extremists expelled by Italy since January 2015.
As Italy continues ousting individual extremists for reasons of state security, it also plans to overhaul its expulsion program for the thousands of migrants who simply fail to win asylum each year.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti has said he would ask Italy’s Parliament to approve the creation of smaller, regional detention centers to hold migrants undergoing the bureaucratic process of being sent home.
Italy’s existing holding centers are overcrowded and have been the subject of recent migrant protests over poor conditions and in a recent case, the death of a young woman awaiting medical care.
Italy has long complained that the European Union has failed to help enforce migrant expulsions, which must be worked out with countries of origin and require funding for plane tickets for both the people kicked out and their security escorts.