April 17, 2024
The shady case of Yaeesh Anan, the al-Aqsa Brigade ring-leader active for years in Italy
Europe Israel MENA News Middle East Politics

The shady case of Yaeesh Anan, the al-Aqsa Brigade ring-leader active for years in Italy

by Giovanni Giacalone

In early January of 2024, the Israeli authorities requested the extradition of al-Aqsa Brigades terrorist Anan Yaeesh, 37, originally from Nablus and a leader of the “Tulkarem Unit”.

Israeli authorities had been after Anan for quite some time, since he first reached Europe, precisely Norway, back in 2013 where he tried to obtain international protection but without any positive outcome. The authorities in Oslo ordered him to leave the country and, strangely enough, he found a safe haven in Italy where, despite being mostly unemployed, he managed to open eight bank accounts and to speak directly with the chief commander of the al-Aqsa Brigades, Mounir al-Maqdah, using Whatsapp.

This past week, the judges of the Italian Appeal Court of L’Aquila refused Israel’s request for extradition.

Anan had been arrested in late January 2024 on Israel’s request, while two other Palestinians, Irar Ali Saji Ribhi and Doghmosh Mansour, were arrested last weekend by the Italian police in relation to Anan’s case.

The judges turned the matter into a political case, obviously against Israel, saying that “Anan could be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or in any case to acts which constitute a violation of human rights”, additionally indicating that “Israeli prisons are characterized by overcrowding, physical violence, poor hygiene conditions and lack of healthcare further worsened by the ongoing conflict”.

As if Israel was a “banana republic” and Italy did not have any issues with overcrowded prisons, violence and suicides.

Interestingly, Anan also received the support of the same Italian left-wing politicians who backed Mohammad Hannoun, the president of the Association of Palestinians in Italy and ABSPP who had his bank accounts frozen by various banks due to financial movements to subjects registered in the black lists of European databases and for other anomalies.

It is worth reminding that Hannoun defined the October 7th massacre as “self-defense” and glorified Hamas bombmaker Yahya Ayyash and Saleh al-Arouri just two months ago.

Among the politicians supporting Anan and Hannoun there are Laura Boldrini, Stefania Ascari and Nicola Fratoianni.

Anan also found support among far-left and anarchist factions that organized demonstrations outside courts and the prison in Terni where he is held, as posted in some of their websites such as Rivoluzione Anarchica (Anarchist Revolution) and Onda Rossa (Red Wave).

Anan has a long story of involvement in Palestinian terrorism: he spent years in prison in Israel for a series of attacks against Israeli targets, for taking part in the Second Intifada and he was even expelled by the Fatah secret services, where he served from 2002 to 2005, for terror-related issues. In September of 2005 he was arrested by the Palestinian police and locked up in Jericho’s prison from where he escaped six months later.

The legal papers of the trial indicate that Anan and his terror-cell were collecting funds and planning a series of attacks against Israeli politicians, the war cabinet, and an armed assault similar to the one that occurred in southern Israel on October 7th, against the Israeli settlement in Avnei Hefetz. They planned to use video cameras installed on rifles and hats to film everything for propaganda goals. The cell was also in touch with members of the same Tulkarem unit who were killed on November 6th 2023 in an exchange of fire with the IDF in Tulkarem.

Moreover, despite their status of “unemployment”, Anan and his colleague Irar Ali Saji Ribhi, had respectively 8 and 9 open bank accounts. In one of these accounts, opened at the Italian Mail service through the Poste Pay card, more than 95,000 Euros were found.

Anan’s European adventure started in September 2013, three years after being released from prison, when he obtained a Schengen visa from the Norwegian consulate in Ramallah and flew to Norway where he stayed for a few years before the authorities in Oslo revoked it following an extradition request by the Israeli authorities. That was due to the fact that some Palestinians arrested by the IDF in the West Bank claimed that Anan was a training officer for al-Aqsa and a weapon trafficker.

The Norwegian authorities consequently refused him international protection and his appeal attempt with the help of a lawyer also failed. Anan then moved to Sweden for three months in an attempt to obtain protection there, but once again it was refused.

In early October 2017 he boarded a train departing from Norway and reached Rome on October 8th. Despite the fact that he lacked any type of ID except for a photo of his passport and an ID copy provided by the International Red Cross (all his documents had been withheld by the Norwegian authorities) he managed to remain in Italy.

In Rome, he met some Arabs in a restaurant near the Vatican who suggested him to move to L’Aquila where “it would be easier to obtain a residence permit for international protection”. How did they know that? Why is L’Aquila such a “hospitable” city?

Anan follows the advice of these mysterious Arabs and goes to L’Aquila where, on October 31, 2017, he has an interview with the Italian DIGOS police. On that occasion, he tells them everything, including his career as an al-Aqsa member, his arrests by Palestinian and Israeli police, his escape from Jericho’s prison, the firefight with the IDF in 2006.

It is worth recalling that the Al-Aqsa Brigades are classified as a terrorist organization by the EU, the US, and Canada. Strangely enough, the Italian authorities let him stay, unlike their Swedish and Norwegian counterparts. In 2018 Anan proceeds with the request for international protection and in 2019 he obtains a special protection permit.

In September 2022, the Court of Bari rejects Anan’s request for international protection for “reasons of national security and public order”. However, Anan remains in Italy and he even manages to travel abroad to Malaysia, the UAE, Malta, Germany, and Jordan.

During his last trip, to Jordan, in May 2023, he is arrested by Jordanian authorities but he also released shortly after under unclear circumstances.

In November 2023, Anan is back in Italy. His permit of stay expired on November 11th, 2023 but, according to the investigators, no request for renewal was made. Anan even manages to rent an apartment, once again in L’Aquila, on January 7th, 2024, together with his cell’s second-in-command, Irar Ali Saji Ribhi. At the end of that same month, he is arrested due to Israeli request.

The Italian authorities were clearly aware of his presence, of his al-Aqsa militancy. What would have happened if Israel had not requested his arrest and extradition? How is it possible that Anan was able to obtain such permits of stay, operate in Italy, open eight bank accounts with money flowing despite being unemployed? No red flag was raised?

In the legal papers it is also stated that “after the October 7th 2023 facts in Israel, the DIGOS police intensified its monitoring activity to spot individuals of concern for national security and detected Anan Yaeesh as potential author of projects of a terrorist nature potentially capable of also targeting interests and sites on national territory”.

However, Anan entered Italy in 2017 and the Italian authorities knew of his presence at least from October 31st of that year.

Anan knew that he was under surveillance from the government, as he tells an interlocutor on Mestre during a phone call (it’s in the legal papers). However, he is not worried about using Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram to communicate with key members and leaders of the al-Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank and Lebanon.

Now the Italian Appeal Court of L’Aquila, the city where according to those mysterious Arabs Anan met in Rome, “it’s easier to obtain legal protection”, is refusing his extradition to Israel. It is legitimate to ponder if this case goes beyond the judicial and the ideological issues. It is indeed very strange.

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