Italy arrests brother of Marseille attacker

Italy arrests Tunisian terror suspect who radicalized his elder brother who then stabbed two women to death in Marseille.

Ben Ariel,

Scene of Marseille attack
Scene of Marseille attack

A Tunisian terror suspect arrested in northern Italy had fought in Syria, was previously expelled from Italy and is believed responsible for radicalizing his elder brother, who stabbed two women to death in France this month, authorities said Monday, according to The Associated Press.

Anis Hanachi, 25, was arrested Saturday on an international warrant issued by France while riding a bicycle in the center of the northern city of Ferrara, authorities told reporters in Rome.

He had no documents and claimed to be Algerian but further investigation confirmed that he was the brother of 29-year-old Ahmed Hanachi, who was shot and killed by police following the October 1 attack in the French city of Marseille.

The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group later claimed the stabbing attack in Marseille, saying the terrorist was one of its "soldiers".

French authorities and neighbors in Tunisia subsequently said, however, there had been no outward evidence that the attacker had been radicalized.

Citing information from French officials, anti-terrorism police investigator Claudio Galzerano said on Monday that the younger brother was known to have been a foreign fighter in Syria. He also had been expelled from Italy to Tunisia in 2014 following his illegal arrival in Sicily on a smuggler's boat, police said.

French authorities had signaled his possible presence in Italy two days after the elder brother stabbed two cousins to death in Marseille's main train station.

Italian authorities said they confirmed his presence in the Liguria region, which borders France, on Wednesday, and then tracked him down to Ferrara, near the Adriatic coast, by the weekend.

Hanachi is being held on charges of involvement in the attack and of international terrorism and is awaiting extradition to France, which is expected to happen in a matter of days.

While Italy has so far not suffered any terror attacks by ISIS adherents, Italian ties to a number of recent attacks have raised questions about whether the country is being used as a logistics base, noted AP.

The Berlin Christmas market attacker, Anis Amri, also Tunisian, was killed in Milan days after the attack, although there was no evidence he was receiving logistics support in Italy.

In addition, noted AP, the London Bridge attacker was a Moroccan-born Italian who previously lived in Bologna, and one of the Bataclan attackers in Paris had traveled through Italy before the deadly attack.