Abstract: Muaz al-Fizani’s jihadi career spanned two decades and three continents, taking the hardline Tunisian extremist from Italy to Bosnia to a jihadi chemical weapons program in Afghanistan. After being detained in Bagram for the better part of a decade after 9/11, al-Fizani was acquitted in a terrorism trial in Italy and then returned to North Africa to pursue his terrorist career. In 2018, he was handed a 30-year prison sentence in Tunisia in connection with his help in planning, from Libya, the Islamic State’s March 2015 Bardo museum attack and his involvement in the June 2015 Sousse beach attack. His jihadi career testifies to the long-lasting commitment of certain jihadi terrorists, the attraction the Islamic State held for some of the veterans of the Afghan camps, and the global nature of the jihadi terror threat. It also illustrates how the United States’ decision to detain a significant number of jihadi terrorists outside the U.S. judicial system during the early years of the U.S. “war on terror” could create unintended consequences. Had al-Fizani been tried and convicted on serious terrorism charges in a U.S. court after 9/11, his terrorist career would have been short-lived.

The analysis of individual career patterns in the jihadi community may help qualitative research on how terrorism networks work. Muaz al-Fizani is one of the few surviving top commanders of the Islamic State in Libya and Tunisia who contributed to shaping the group’s strategy in North Africa. Al-Fizani (alternative transliteration Moez Fezzani) was born on March 23, 1969, in Tunis to Fatima Shehawi and Abdelkader al-Fizani.1 He spent his childhood in Ezzahrouni, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital. Although he is a Tunisian national, he is of Libyan descent, and according to some sources, he even holds dual citizenship.2 When questioned by Italian investigators in 2010, he said, “I, myself, feel Libyan.”3

From Italy to Bosnia to Afghanistan: The Makings of a Jihadi Terrorist
In 1989, al-Fizani emigrated to Italy in search of a better life. He initially worked as a day laborer near Naples and in the northwestern Valle d’Aosta region. For a short period, he joined his brother, a drug dealer, to sell hashish and heroin in the northern city of Bolzano and in Milan. Later on—as he told Italian investigators—he regretted being involved in drug trafficking and became “a pious man.”4 After more than three years in prison, al-Fizani settled in Milan and found employment as a construction worker. He shared an apartment in a housing project on Via Pier Alessandro Paravia in the San Siro western suburb.5 This apartment would later become a notorious hub for the Islamist network in Milan, called “the Tunisians’ house.” Al-Fizani’s roommate was Lassaad Sassi, a member of the Tunisian Islamic Front (FIT)a who in 2006 became the leader of Jund Asad Bin al-Furat, better known as the Soliman Group.6

The two Tunisians radicalized together in part as a result of the influence of the Egyptian preacher Anwar Shaaban, an “Arab-Afghan” veteran and imam of the Islamic Cultural Institute on Viale Jenner, who became the emir of the El Mudžahid detachment (also referred to in English as the Mujahideen Battalion) in the Bosnian conflict.7

Al-Fizani traveled to Bosnia in November 1994 and stayed there until March 1996.8 After a short training, he took part in three battles against the Serbs: Operation “Clear Victory – Black Lion” in May 1995, the “Dignity Battle – Operation Miracle” in July 1995, and in September “Operation Badr.” The jihadis carried out horrific tortures and beheadings of Serbian prisoners of war.9 His experiences in Bosnia made him a war veteran with respectable credentials in the jihadi milieu.

After his return to Milan from Bosnia, al-Fizani prayed in the then-radical mosques of Viale Jenner and Via Quaranta in Milan, both led by salafi preachers connected to al-Qa`ida and the Egyptian Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya.10 Before they took different paths, al-Fizani and Sassi hosted several North African militants who lived in Milan and in Bologna. Their apartment was known as “the Tunisians’ house” because it served as a sort of informal recruiting center for those who wanted to join the foreign fighters in Bosnia.11 b

In May 2001, Sassi left Milan and traveled to Algeria to join the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). In 2002, a Tunisian court sentenced Sassi in absentia to 20 years in prison for terrorism offenses.12 In 2005, Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sassi on charges of arms trafficking and terrorism.13 Yet, despite being a wanted man, in April 2006 Sassi and five other militants infiltrated Tunisia from the Algerian border,14 and the following month, Sassi set up three jihadi camps for his Jund Asad Bin al Furat group in the mountains south of Tunis.15 Sassi trained recruits mostly from the town of Soliman, which gave the group its more well-known name, and prepared attacks against the American and British embassies in the capital.16 From December 2006, Sassi’s band of jihadis engaged in firefights with Tunisian security forces and took shelter in their hideouts,17 but by mid-January 2007, they had all been killed, including Sassi.18

In 1997, al-Fizani was investigated by the Italian police for money laundering of counterfeit banknotes in Milan and Cremona.19 While seemingly a minor offense, it was, in fact, connected to terrorism financing. Indeed, from 1997 to 2000, a group of Tunisians in Milan linked to al-Fizani and Sassi sold counterfeit banknotes to fund the GSPC in Algeria and future attacks in Italy.20 According to Milan’s prosecutor, the group was considering plans against the Carabinieri barracks of Via Moscova, the police headquarters in Milan, Linate Airport, the railway station, the Tunisian consulate, and the NATO base in Mondragone. Thanks to counterterrorism investigations and a series of detentions, these attacks never took place.c

Al-Fizani left Italy on August 19, 1997. When he landed in Peshawar, Pakistan, he was arrested for his forged visa.21 He was later released and married an Afghan or Pakistani woman named Rhail, who would give birth to three children.22 Using the kunya of Abu Nassim, al-Fizani spent some time managing a safehouse in Peshawar and sending Tunisian recruits to the Afghan training camps.23

In the fall of 1997, al-Fizani moved to the Darunta camp run by Egyptian explosives expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayyid Umar, also known as Abu Khabab.24 The former al-Qa`ida member and MI6 spy Aimen Dean was in Darunta at that time and described Abu Nassim as a sociopath.25 According to Dean, al-Fizani “had a gentle voice and shy eyes when in conversation but took great pleasure in torturing the animals on which we experimented and held extreme takfiri views.”26 When Abu Khabab’s apprentices started considering chemical weapons by extracting nicotine poison from cigarettes, Dean recalls in his memoir: “Our psychopath, Abu Nassim, talked about lacing banknotes with the poison inside letters.”27 Al-Fizani also tried to make botulinum toxin and experimented with hydrogen cyanide on rabbits.28 When, after al-Qa`ida’s bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998, an apprentice proposed a new chemical weapon, al-Fizani was excited and said, “This will change everything. Imagine if we’d used poison gas in Nairobi and Dar es Sala{a}m.”29

The Tunisian spent the next several years going back and forth between Peshawar and Abu Khabab’s facility in Darunta, training in a large variety of chemical weapons and IEDs. Although it is unknown whether al-Fizani formally joined al-Qa`ida, he can be considered a follower of the so-called Jalalabad school because some of his views were considered extreme even for the jihadi milieu at that time. The Jalalabad school formed in Afghanistan among hardline jihadis, and some researchers identify a strong ideological connection between it and the later doctrine of the Islamic State.30

In 1999, al-Fizani also met the future al-Qa`ida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was training at the Darunta camp. Abu Khabab’s team invented a device capable of releasing the poison gases hydrogen cyanide or cyanogen chloride, called al-mubtakkar al-farid (the unique invention), and according to Dean, al-Fizani said, “Imagine seeing the enemy suffer like this. It brings joy to our heart. Several at once could kill many people in a confined space – like a subway or cinema.”31 In late 1999, Jordan’s security services thwarted a plot to release hydrogen cyanide in an Amman movie theater.32 Dean wrote that he believed that al-Zarqawi had the capacity to create a mubtakkar after his training in Darunta and that perhaps the decision to target a cinema was inspired by al-Fizani.33

In late 2001, al-Fizani was captured in Pakistan and imprisoned in Bagram, Afghanistan.34 He spent almost a decade in U.S. custody, and it is possible this experience further radicalized him. Later, he claimed he had constantly been chained to the wall and emphasized his resistance: “I was like Roman gladiators.”35 Following an agreement in June 2009, Italy accepted three prisoners from the U.S. authorities.36 Two were Tunisians from Guantanamo, Adel Ben Mabrouk37 and Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri,38 and the third was al-Fizani.39 Ever since 2007, Italian prosecutors had wanted to question al-Fizani and put him on trial.d

In 2010, al-Fizani was put on trial in Italy for membership of a terrorist organization, but he was acquitted in 2012.40 The government then ordered his deportation to Tunisia.41 In April 2012, while he was being escorted to Milan’s Malpensa airport, al-Fizani attacked the policeman sitting next to him, managed to open the car door and jumped from the moving car on the highway. He escaped through the fields and was captured only days later, at a friend’s house in Varese. Before boarding the flight, he told the police: “You will hear about me again.”42 He would not be wrong.

Muaz al-Fizani (Source: Tunisian police)
Muaz al-Fizani (Source: Italian police)

From Tunisia to Syria to Libya: The Makings of an Islamic State Attack Planner
Back in post-revolution Tunisia in 2012, al-Fizani joined the salafi group Ansar al-Sharia (AST),43 which between 2011 and 2013 was afforded significant freedom to operate under the Ennahda-led government.44 He then traveled to Libya, where he supervised a training camp of Tunisian fighters hoping to join Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, located at the farms of al-Fateha on the eastern outskirts of Derna, Libya.45 In 2013, he managed to reunite in Libya with his three children from Pakistan and married a Tunisian woman named Hajar al-Kafi, who gave birth to two sons.46

In 2013, al-Fizani moved to Syria for a period of time, fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra and the Libyan group Katibat al-Battar.47 Following the April 2013 split between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State and Abu Muhammad al-Julani’s Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Fizani joined the former and became a senior figure in Katibat al-Battar. According to the journalist Daniele Raineri, al-Fizani pledged allegiance to the caliphate in Sirte in late 2014, likely in front of Abu Mughirah al-Qahtani, the emir of the Islamic State in Libya, who was killed on November 14, 2015.48 Like many other Katibat al-Battar fighters, al-Fizani returned to Libya to establish an Islamic State wilaya (province) there.49 He would presumably have run into many compatriots in the country as many AST members had fled to Libya after the Tunisian government designated AST as a terrorist organization in August 2013.50 Al-Fizani became one of the leaders of the Islamic State camp in Sabratha, west of Tripoli.51 In 2014, the Court of Appeal in Milan sentenced him in absentia to six years for terrorism charges, reversing his earlier acquittal.52

The Islamic State in Libya reached its peak in 2015, by establishing the wilayat Tarabulus and Barqah with several cadres in Sirte, Sabratha, and Derna.53 As Aaron Zelin has highlighted, both of the large-scale attacks in Tunisia—at the Bardo museum in Tunis in March 2015 and at the beach in Sousse in June 2015—were directly connected to the Islamic State’s infrastructure in Libya, particularly the town of Sabratha.54 Sixty people, mostly tourists, were killed in the Bardo and Sousse attacks and significant numbers were wounded.55 Among the key organizers were al-Fizani and Noureddine Chouchane (also transliterated Nur al-Din Shushan). On July 19, 2015, Chouchane ordered the kidnapping of four Italian workers in Sabratha. On March 3, 2016, two of them died in a shootout between the Islamic State kidnappers and Sabratha’s militias; the remaining two were rescued.56 It is possible that al-Fizani, given he was a close associate of Chouchane in Sabratha, had a direct role in the kidnapping.57 The wife of a hostage received a phone call from a kidnapper who spoke Italian, although this might have been Chouchane himself, having spent years in Italy.58 Allegedly, al-Fizani was also involved in the kidnapping of the Italian doctor Ignazio Scaravilli, abducted in south Tripoli on January 6, 2015, and released on June 9, for a ransom of over 100,000 Euro.59

Al-Fizani, already twice married, married as many as four more women during this period. It is unclear how long each of these marriages lasted, but given traditional jurisprudence about the maximum number of wives allowed under Islam, it is very unlikely he was married to more than four women at any one time. He reportedly married three Libyan women, two of whom were named Nadia and Latifa.60 This aspect remains unclear, but it is reported that he got married to one of them in early 2015 in Sirte.61 Another new wife was Imene Mechri, a former Tunisian prostitute who worked in Libyan hotels and wanted to ‘settle down,’ so someone recommended her “a rich Tunisian man.”62 Apparently, she did not know about her husband’s terrorist affiliation. When in 2016 Libyan security forces arrested her, they found half a million Euro in cash, and according to Tripoli’s intelligence, this was part of the 13 million Euro ransom paid to free the four Italians.63 Al-Fizani’s marriage with the Tunisian Hajar al-Kafi appears to be the most enduring one.

Between 2015 and 2016, al-Fizani was active in Sabratha and Sirte, likely to contribute planning to the Bardo and Sousse attacks. In late December 2015, he became a mastermind of the planned takeover of Ben Gardane, a Tunisian town close to the Libyan border. On February 8, 2016, the Tunisian Interior Ministry issued a search warrant for al-Fizani.64 Eleven days later, on February 19, Noureddine Chouchane was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Sabratha.65 The attack on Ben Gardane by 200 Islamic State fighters began on March 7, 2016, but after fierce clashes, local security forces repelled the jihadis by March 10, 2016.66 The failed plan to establish the wilaya Tunis in Ben Gardane had been developed by the Tunisian Islamic State leadership in Libya: al-Fizani, Chouchane, Miftah Manita, Adl Ghandri, and Shukri Abd al-Qawi.67

From what is known about him, in the Islamic State’s Libyan strategy, al-Fizani seems to have been in charge of planning, training, and financing rather than a frontman for propaganda or personally involved in operations in the field. After the fiasco in Ben Gardane, in April 2016 he fled first to Benghazi and then to Sirte, where he witnessed the Islamic State’s last stand against Libyan militias.68 In July 2016, when the jihadi stronghold was falling, al-Fizani managed to escape the siege.69 On August 17, 2016, The Libya Herald reported that al-Fizani had allegedly been arrested by Zintani militias, between the towns of Jumayl and Ragdelin, on his way to Tunisia,70 but a few days later, the militia leaders from Zintan denied his capture.71 In the summer, al-Fizani likely reached the southern oasis of Kufrah and, reportedly carrying a fake British passport, crossed the border into Sudan.72 This route was often used for smuggling jihadis into Libya, but now al-Fizani headed in the opposite direction.73

In September 2016, when most of Sirte was liberated, Tripoli’s militias found a list of seven Tunisians, including al-Fizani, in charge of sending Islamic State members to Italy.74 During the fall of 2016, he remained at large in Sudan, but the Italian domestic intelligence (AISI) reportedly tracked his phone calls to three Islamists in Milan, to solicit money transfers from them.75 In November, the Italian external intelligence (AISE) reportedly located al-Fizani in Khartoum and carried out a joint operation with the Sudanese authorities to capture him.76 He was arrested on November 14, 2016, and extradited to Tunisia along with his wife Hajar al-Kafi and their two sons on December 23, 2016.77 Tunisian State media reported that al-Fizani stood accused of being a senior figure within the Islamic State and helping plan the Bardo attack.78

In Tunis, al-Fizani was placed in solitary confinement and accused of several terrorism charges in connection with his involvement in the Bardo museum and Sousse attacks in 2015, as well as the 2013 foiled suicide attack against the mausoleum of President Bourguiba in Monastir.79 In 2017 and 2018, he repeatedly refused to leave his cell and appear in court. On January 2, 2018, the judge decided to postpone once again his trial for this reason.80 Reportedly, al-Fizani confirmed his relations with the leader of Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia, Abu Iyadh.81 On February 23, 2018, al-Fizani was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Tunis Court of First Instance in connection with his involvement in the 2015 Bardo museum and Sousse beach attacks, and for radicalizing several Tunisians.82 Al-Fizani was also on trial for the training of Tunisian recruits in Libyan terrorist camps between 2013 and 2015. In May 2019, the Fifth Criminal Chamber of the Tunis Court of First Instance postponed this hearing due to al-Fizani’s refusal to appear in court.83 But in March 2021, the court finally handed al-Fizani a six-year sentence and four years for his wife on that charge.84 He is being held in solitary confinement in a Tunis prison, to avoid the risk of radicalizing other inmates.85

The career of Muaz al-Fizani is significant because he witnessed the evolution of global jihad in several hotspots, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. He used his personal network to secure a prominent position within the Islamic State, despite being previously detained by the United States and Italy for years. For whatever combination of reasons, the threat posed by al-Fizani was underestimated. One question that is difficult to assess is the degree to which information was shared between American, British, and Italian agencies and whether greater information sharing might have improved the chances of convicting him in Italy in his 2010-2012 trial or interdicting him in the years that followed. Had al-Fizani been tried and convicted in a U.S. federal court after his capture after 9/11 rather than being detained in Bagram, his jihadi career would have been much abridged.

Al-Fizani’s jihadi career spanned two decades and three continents, testifying to the long-lasting commitment of certain jihadi terrorists, the attraction the Islamic State held for some of the veterans of the Afghan camps, and the global nature of the jihadi terror threat. In Bosnia and Afghanistan, al-Fizani was nothing but a foot soldier of the jihadi movement. During this period, he was described as a psychopath and a takfirist. His aggressive temperament was confirmed by his breakout in Italy. In Libya, by contrast, he was dealing with financing, training, logistics, and planning, though he did not appear in propaganda videos or directly participate in terrorist attacks or military operations. He even married a former prostitute, not usually recommended for a devout salafi.e Nevertheless, he rose through the ranks of the Islamic State’s hierarchy and played a major role in shaping the group’s strategy in Libya and Tunisia. Strong adaptation skills, maintaining a low profile, and a cynical approach allowed him to stay undetected and gain a senior position in the organization.     CTC

Matteo Pugliese is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Barcelona, studying the role of prison intelligence in counterterrorism, and an ISPI Associate Research Fellow in the Radicalization and International Terrorism program. He is also a Reserve Officer of Italian Carabinieri (law enforcement – armed forces) serving in the General Commander’s Staff. Twitter: @MatteoPugliese

© 2022 Matteo Pugliese

Substantive Notes
[a] The Tunisian Islamic Front was created in 1986 by hardline Islamists, but due to government repression, many TIF members left Tunisia for Afghanistan or exile in Europe. See Fabio Merone and Francesco Cavatorta, “Salafist mouvance and sheikh-ism in the Tunisian democratic transition,” Working Papers in International Studies, Dublin City University, 2012.

[b] The multi-ethnic suburb of San Siro gathered a number of Algerians, Libyans, Tunisians, Moroccans, and Egyptians who spread across the globe in the following decades. At least three Tunisians from al-Fizani’s circle died as suicide bombers in Iraq. See Paolo Biondani, “Il tunisino di Milano, jihadista da 25 anni,” L’Espresso, July 29, 2015. Others were arrested in 2007 during the counterterrorism operation “Rakno Sadess,” while allegedly planning attacks in Milan. See “Milano: arrestati sospetti terroristi islamici,” Corriere della Sera, June 8, 2007. Nine of the 13 Tunisians detained in Guantanamo had connections to the Milan jihadi network or to a Bologna jihadi network, six specifically with the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, and four had fought in Bosnia. Just at the corner of al-Fizani’s Milan street of residence (Via Paravia) is Via Matteo Civitali, the street where a man named Mohamed Game used to live. Game was a Libyan immigrant who radicalized and in 2009 attempted a suicide bombing in the nearby Santa Barbara Army barracks; his IED caused only minor injuries. See Lorenzo Vidino, “Il jihadismo autoctono in Italia: nascita, sviluppo e dinamiche di radicalizzazione,” ISPI, 2014, and “Libyan hurt after throwing bomb at Milan barracks,” Reuters, October 12, 2009.

[c] This Tunisian’s group predilection for violence had emerged already in 1996. That year, during a gathering at the Viale Jenner mosque, Abu Imad, the personal assistant to Anwar Shaaban who had been killed in Bosnia in December 1995, claimed the role of imam, supported by around 10 Tunisians from the group linked to Sassi and al-Fizani. The Egyptians, more numerous, supported instead a preacher called Abu Khadija. The Tunisians locked Abu Khadija in the toilet [bathroom] and threatened his supporters with a Kalashnikov that was hidden in the mosque. The frightened Egyptians ran away, and Abu Imad became the new imam. See “Gip Salvini, Aouadi e altri,” Milan Court Order: Tribunale di Milano, Ordinanza 17 maggio 2005 [May 17, 2005].

[d] Some press reports and analysts confuse al-Fizani and Mabrouk. In February 2011, Mabrouk was released and returned to Tunis, but he joined Jabhat al-Nusra and was killed in 2015 fighting in Syria. See Domenico Quirico, “Watching Bin Laden’s end (from Tunisia) with a Guantanamo survivor,” La Stampa, May 6, 2011, and Domenico Quirico, “Io jihadista, vi racconto la mia guerra santa contro gli infedeli,” La Stampa, November 12, 2015. In 2016, Fox News wrongly reported that al-Fizani was a former Guantanamo prisoner. “Former Gitmo Detainee Arrested, Charged With Being Top ISIS Recruiter,” Fox News Insider, August 20, 2016.

[e] Although Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the al-Qa`ida mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, reportedly at one point lived with a prostitute in Dubai. See Ali Soufan, The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda (London: Allen Lane, 2011).

[1] “Menastream ID #1: Moez Ben Abdelkader Ben Ahmed Fezzani,” Menastream, February 9, 2016.

[2] Francesco Marone and Lorenzo Vidino, “Destinazione Jihad. I foreign fighters d’Italia,” ISPI, 2018.

[3] Francesco Semprini, “Abu Nassim, la primula nera che reclutava jihadisti in Italia,” La Stampa, August 27, 2016.

[4] Cesare Giuzzi, “Libia, arrestato Abu Nassim, Era reclutatore di jihadisti in Italia,” Corriere della Sera, August 18, 2016.

[5] Paolo Biondani, “Il tunisino di Milano, jihadista da 25 anni,” L’Espresso, July 29, 2015.

[6] Aaron Y. Zelin, Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020).

[7] Biondani.

[8] Obaid Khleifi, “[Moez Al-Fazzani: The “typical” biography of a Tunisian terrorist]” (Arabic), Sawaab-arraii, May 19, 2019.

[9] Evan F. Kohlmann, Al Qaida’s Jihad in Europe. The Afghan-Bosnian Network (Oxford: Berg, 2004).

[10] Lorenzo Vidino, “Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad,” Prometheus, 2006.

[11] Cesare Giuzzi, “Isis, caccia alla rete di Milano, Rischio terroristi tra i profughi,” Corriere della Sera, August 14, 2016.

[12] Zelin.

[13] Paolo Biondani and Cristina Marrone, “Retata fra gli imam del Nord Italia,” Corriere della Sera, May 19, 2005.

[14] Samy Ghorbal, “Comment les salafistes ont éte neutralisés,” Jeune Afrique, January 7, 2008.

[15] Alison Pargeter, “The Suleiman Affair – Radicalism and Jihad in Tunisia,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 23 (2011).

[16] Craig S. Smith, “Tunisia Says Suspects in Gun Battle Had Blueprints of Embassies,” New York Times, January 14, 2007; Arielle Thedrel, “La Tunisie aux prises avec al-Qaida,” Le Figaro, January 11, 2007; author tracking of militant activity related to Tunisia.

[17] Thedrel.

[18] José Garcon, “Fusillades à répétition dans la Tunisie tranquille de Ben Ali,” Liberation, January 4, 2007.

[19] Biondani.

[20] Gip Salvini, “Aouadi e altri,” Tribunale di Milano, Ordinanza 17 maggio 2005 [May 17, 2005].

[21] Giuzzi, “Isis, caccia alla rete di Milano, Rischio terroristi tra i profughi.”

[22] Khleifi.

[23] Tribunal correctionnel de Bruxelles, Jugement 30 septembre 2003, “Nizar Trabelsi et al.”

[24] René Pita, “Assessing Al Qaeda’s chemical threat,” Athena Paper, 2007; Aimen Dean with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Nine Lives: My Time As MI6’s Top Spy Inside al-Qaeda (London: Oneworld, 2018).

[25] Dean, Cruickshank, and Lister.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Tore Hamming, “The Hardline Stream of Global Jihad: Revisiting the Ideological Origin of the Islamic State,” CTC Sentinel 12:1 (2019).

[31] Dean, Cruickshank, and Lister.

[32] Colin Clarke ed., “Terrorism: The Essential Reference Guide,” ABC-CLIO, 2018, p. 140.

[33] Dean, Cruickshank, and Lister.

[34] Andrea Galli and Fiorenza Sarzanini, “Le telefonate e le chat in Lombardia, Fezzani cade nella rete italiana,” Corriere della Sera, November 14, 2016.

[35] Ibid.

[36] “Italy agrees to accept three detainees,” France24, June 16, 2009.

[37] “Adel Ben Mabrouk,” The Guantanamo Docket, New York Times.

[38] “Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri,” The Guantanamo Docket, New York Times.

[39] Semprini, “Abu Nassim, la primula nera che reclutava jihadisti in Italia.”

[40] Francesco Grignetti, “Alla testa degli uomini del Califfo un terrorista vissuto a lungo in Italia,” La Stampa, September 10, 2016.

[41] Andrea Galli, “Arrest of Fezzani, Leading IS Figure and Recruiter in Italy,” Corriere della Sera, November 15, 2016.

[42] Biondani.

[43] “Menastream ID #1: Moez Ben Abdelkader Ben Ahmed Fezzani.”

[44] Zelin.

[45] Khleifi.

[46] “[Tunisia received it yesterday: What came in the confessions of the terrorist Moez Al-Fazzani?]” (Arabic), hakaekonline, December 24, 2016.

[47] Marta Serafini, “Il regista del video di Isis su Bruxelles scarcerato dall’Italia nel 2012,” Corriere della Sera, March 31, 2016.

[48] Daniele Raineri, “Two details: Moez Fezzani gave bay’a in Sirte in late 2014 …,” Twitter, August 22, 2016.

[49] Marta Serafini, “Dall’Italia alla Libia passando per Guantanamo: chi è Fezzani,” Corriere della Sera, November 16, 2014.

[50] “Tunisia declares Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist group,” BBC, August 27, 2013.

[51] See Arturo Varvelli, “The Libyan Radicalization Hotbeds: Derna and Sirte as Case Studies,” Figure 2, p. 104, in Arturo Varvelli ed., “Jihadist Hotbeds, Understanding Local Radicalization Processes,” ISPI, 2016.

[52] “Terrorismo, atti al Ministero per estradizione reclutatore dell’Isis Fezzani,” Il Giorno, November 17, 2016.

[53] Andrea Beccaro, “ISIS in Libya and beyond, 2014-2016,” Journal of North African Studies, 2020.

[54] Zelin.

[55] “Tunisia attacks: Militants jailed over 2015 terror,” BBC, February 9, 2019.

[56] “Italiani rapiti in Libia, condannati vertici Bonatti,” AdnKronos, January 22, 2019.

[57] Paolo Gallori, “Catturato in Libia Al Fezzani, leader Is a Sabrata e reclutatore di jihadisti in Italia,” La Repubblica, August 18, 2016.

[58] Francesca Schianchi and Francesco Semprini, “In Libia l’autopsia sui due tecnici: “Uno dei rapitori parlava italiano,” La Stampa, March 31, 2016.

[59] Khleifi.

[60] Ibid.

[61] “The Tunisian Al-Muizz Al-Fazzani was not arrested in Zintan … The Observatory reveals, in pictures, the identity of the terrorist Abu Nassim,” Al Marsad, August 21, 2016.

[62] “Une ex-prostituée dans les bras du terroriste Moez Fezzani,” Kapitalis, June 7, 2016.

[63] Lorenzo Cremonesi, “I file dell’Isis e i sequestrati italiani, riscatto alla moglie del jihadista,” Corriere della Sera, August 13, 2016.

[64] “Menastream ID #1: Moez Ben Abdelkader Ben Ahmed Fezzani.”

[65] Declan Walsh, Ben Hubbard, and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Bombing in Libya Reveals Limits of Strategy Against ISIS,” New York Times, February 19, 2016.

[66] Zelin.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Gallori.

[69] Lorenzo Cremonesi, “Sirte, nel covo dell’Isis i documenti sull’Italia,” Corriere della Sera, August 12, 2016.

[70] Ajnadin Mustafa, “Top Tunisian terrorist reported captured by Zintanis,” Libya Herald, August 17, 2016.

[71] “The Tunisian Al-Muizz Al-Fazzani was not arrested in Zintan.”

[72] Cremonesi, “Sirte, nel covo dell’Isis i documenti sull’Italia.”

[73] Matteo Pugliese, “Jihad sotto la Lanterna: le indagini antiterrorismo in Liguria (2013-2018),” ISPI, 2018.

[74] Francesco Semprini, “Sirte, un gruppo di tunisini guida l’ultima resistenza dell’Isis,” La Stampa, September 2, 2016.

[75] Galli and Sarzanini.

[76] “Terrorismo: catturato in Sudan Moez Fezzani, leader Isis reclutatore in Italia,” RaiNews, November 14, 2016.

[77] “[In the coming hours: Tunisia receives the dangerous terrorist Moez Al-Fazzani from the Sudanese authorities]” (Arabic), hakaekonline, December 22, 2016.

[78] “Sudan extradites senior Tunisian Islamic State suspect – state media,” Reuters, December 23, 2016.

[79] “Mandats de dépôt contre le terroriste Moez Fezzani et son épouse,” Le Temps, January 8, 2017; “Tunisia: 30 anni a terrorista Fezzani,” ANSA, February 24, 2018.

[80] “Terrorisme: Moez Fezzani refuse de comparaitre devant le juge,” Kapitalis, January 2, 2018.

[81] “Terrorisme: la justice reporte lexamen de l’affaire Moez Fezzani,” Kapitalis, January 31, 2018.

[82] “Tunisie: le terroriste Ouanes Fekih écope de 10 ans de prison,” Kapitalis, February 24, 2018; “Tunisia: 30 anni a terrorista Fezzani.”

[83] Fathia Saadeh, “[Moez Al-Fezzani was referred: Delay in the case of training Tunisian terrorist elements in camps in Libya]” (Arabic), Le Maghreb, June 10, 2019.

[84] “[Sentences of between 4 and 6 years in prison for terrorist Moez Al-Fazani and his wife]” (Arabic), Babnet, March 10, 2021.

[85] Author conversation, Tunis court judges and CT prosecutors, October 2021.

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