ROME – Italy has expelled nine suspected jihadis since late December, and a top minister vowed on Sunday that authorities would order more expulsions in a heightened terrorism crackdown.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told reporters that the expelled include five Tunisians and citizens from Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan. The expulsions to their countries of origin began before the Jan. 7 terror attack in Paris.
"We said that we would have tightened controls, and we did it before Paris," Alfano said. "Those expelled ... were here for years, and two of these involved their respective families, sending them into Syria to fight."
Alfano said the nine all held residency permits and included people who supported, and recruited members for, the Islamic State group and who "radicalized themselves on the Web."
In addition, Italy has identified 59 people who have traveled from Italy to Syria to fight, including five Italian citizens and two with double-citizenship, Alfano said.
Italy has put "far more than 100" persons suspected of jihadi activities under intense scrutiny, the minister said. "We will continue to be very tough on expulsions" of "dangerous" persons.
Some authorities have expressed concern that terrorists could slip into Italy among clandestine migrants. Recently, hundreds of Syrian migrants were abandoned on cargo ships by smugglers and brought to Italy be rescuers.
"So far nothing has emerged" about possible terrorist infiltration among migrants smuggled by sea, Alfano said. "But no one can exclude anything and some prosecutors' offices are working" to investigate the possibility, he said.