Italian police arrested a 19-year-old Italian Kosovar woman, Bleona Tafallari, in Milan today. Her arrest formed part of a counter-terrorism operation conducted in collaboration with Europol, with Tafallari reportedly hoping to become an Islamist martyr.
The operation came in the wake of an investigation by Italy’s General Investigations and Special Operations Division, Digos, which was conducted in September this year.
“According to the investigations, the radicalized young woman, since the age of 16 a fervent supporter of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, recently in Germany married a militiaman of Kosovar origin with whom she has remained in contact in recent months,” Italian police said.
“The man is linked to the Vienna attacker,” they reported.
On 2 November 2020, an Islamist shot and killed four people in the Austrian capital of Vienna, before being shot dead by police. Some 23 others were injured, seven critically, including a police officer. The 20-year-old perpetrator was an Austrian-North Macedonian ethnic Albanian, a former convict, and known to authorities as a sympathizer of the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
In the wake of the Vienna attack, 15 people were arrested. The public response to authorities was largely negative, particularly after it emerged that Austrian authorities ignored a warning about the attacker in the lead-up to the deadly shooting.
The search conducted by Italian police this week found evidence related to Tafallari’s links to Islamist circles.
In her phone, training manuals, audio and video photographic content exalting Daesh [IS] were identified, more than 2,000 chats were found confirming her propaganda role within a ‘women’s network’: the young woman ideologically supported wives of people imprisoned for acts of terrorism or wives of fighters,” the Italian police announcement read.
Moreover, evidence of a chat between Tafallari and a girl in Kosovo “in the process of radicalization” showed further proof of Tafallari’s role in recruiting members of Islamist circles, Italian police said.
Italian police also seized an audio file of Tafallari singing a song, in which she declares absolute submission to the principles of the Caliphate” and “manifests her availability for martyrdom.” They also seized photos of her “proudly displaying the symbols of Isis”.
Two individuals born in Italy have been involved in recent Islamist terror attacks in Europe. Youssef Zaghba was involved in the June 2017 London Bridge attack, while Ismail Tommaso Hosni attacked soldiers at Milan’s Central station in May 2017. Some 300 people have been deported from Italy over links to extremist groups.