ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Italian police on Saturday carried out three searches targeting three Italians who were suspected of “war activities abroad.”
The Italian volunteers were living on the island’s central city of Nuoro and southern city of Cagliari, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
One of them, Pierluigi Caria, 33, was most likely planning to travel to eastern Syria to join the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) offensive on the country’s last IS-held pocket.
As a result, the police seized his passport to prevent him from further travel.
Caria was identified after a picture spread online showed him together with French Olivier Francois Jean le Clainche who was killed by a Turkish airstrike in Afrin on Feb. 10. In the photo, one of them is holding a Kalashnikov, while the other is holding his fist in the air.
Italian political analyst Marco Gombacci and the founder of the European Post initially told Kurdistan 24 the arrest is a legal issue, and not a political one.
“According to Italian Law (Criminal Code) art. 288 punishes the recruitment of persons for the purpose of fighting on behalf of a foreign state or an insurrection group,” Gombacci explained.
The political analyst rejected Turkish government media reports that it was a “special operation” against the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“It’s against recruitment of Italians who wants to join a fight on behalf of foreign country or insurrection group, whoever they are,” he said.
“There were also investigations for other pro-YPG fighters, and other Italians that wanted to go fight in Ukraine.”
However, according to ANSA,Cariais being investigated not because of art. 288, but because of article 270bis. This article deals with “Associations for purposes of terrorism including international or for subversion of the democratic order.”
Therefore, it could also be possible that the investigation is related to Caria’s involvement in the Sardinian independence movement that strives for independence for the island of Sardinia.
“We need to wait until the investigation is finished,” Gombacci later added.
In a Facebook Post, Caria wrote that he was never ashamed for his political beliefs and said he “committed no crime either for my conscience or for the laws of the colonial state occupying our land.”
“As a Sardinian independentist, I have always claimed my internationalist militancy, and I have never hidden my support for the Kurdish people’s struggle for self-determination and for the fight of the Kurds for the liberation of women and for building a more just and democratic society in the Middle East.”
Foreign volunteers were also arrested, prosecuted, questioned or investigated in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Denmark, despite their fight against IS, which is recognized as an international terrorist organization.
The investigation sparked anger among foreign volunteers that risked their lives to fight against the extremist group. Especially after the SDF just announced the arrest of an Italian IS fighter last Friday that planned to return to Italy through Turkey.
“After the SDF arrested a dangerous Italian IS member on his way to Italy, the SDF have prevented a massacre of only God knows how many innocent Italian people,” Arges, a Spanish volunteer who fought against IS in Syria for two years, told Kurdistan 24.
“The Italian Government now shows its gratitude by investigating one of the SDF’s Italian volunteers that had actively put his life in danger to protect Italian people.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
CORRECTION: This report previously wrongly stated the three Italian volunteers were arrested. No one was arrested. Only their apartments were searched, and the passport of one YPG volunteer was confiscated. Moreover, the YPG volunteer was investigated under law 270bis, and not article 288.