Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Palestinian leader in Italy praises jihad and bombmaker Ayyash on social media

Hannoun's post praising Yahya Ayyash and Saleh al-Arouri
Hannoun's post praising Yahya Ayyash and Saleh al-Arouri

On December 18th 2023, we discussed the pro-Hamas activity of Mohammed Hannoun, the Genoa-based Palestinian architect, president of the Association of Palestinians in Italy, the Europeans for al-Quds and chief of the Charity Association for Palestinian Support (ABSPP) in Italy, who wanted to wipe out Israel.

Hannoun can be considered the mastermind behind demonstrations in various Italian cities from where incitements of hatred and violence against Israel and the Jews are launched.

On October 10th 2023, just three days after the horrendous massacre in southern Israel, Hannoun stated that the attack perpetrated by Hamas was “self-defense”. Such claims were made in an interview with the Italian State TV Rai3.

A few days later, on October 13th, Hannoun took advantage of his role as imam at the Islamic Center of Genoa to attack those countries supporting Israel, including Italy and the United States. The video was removed soon after from his Facebook account and the one belonging to the Islamic center of Genoa, but in the era of technology, almost anything can be recovered.

Hannoun is well known to Israeli State security since, in July of 2023, the Israeli Ministry of Defense asked the Italian police to seize Hannoun’s money. From the investigation conducted by the Shin Bet, it emerged that 500 thousand euros were available to the architect who in the past was accused by Israel, without any criminal repercussions, of hiding financial support to Palestinian families of suicide bombers.

By the end of December 2023, Mohammed Hannoun’s Facebook account, which is public, has shown strong indicators of hate speech, the beatification of jihad, and the glorification of Hamas terrorists.

Hannoun’s online activity had previously been noticed by several Italian newspapers from all political areas such as La Repubblica, Il Foglio, La Verità, Linkiesta and Libero published articles exposing the Palestinian individual. However, Hannoun’s hate speech and terror celebration on Facebook is still ongoing.

On the evening of January 2nd 2024, after Arouri’s killing, Mohammad Hannoun posted the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood (God is our goal, The Messenger is our role model, The Qur’an is our constitution, Jihad is our path, Death for the sake of God is our highest aspiration) followed by the words: “It is not a slogan to raise or words to consume, but rather convictions. For its sake we live and for its sake we meet God”, and by the verses 23 and 24 of the Surah 33 (The Coalition).

The online content became even more explicit on January 4th, when Hannoun glorified Yahya Ayyash, Hamas’ notorious bombmaker, sadly known for both developing Hamas’s use of suicide bombings and building many of the explosives used in attacks:

On this day, the cowardly assassination took place; Mercy to the martyrs; The legendary engineer martyr, who was a turning point in the history of the Palestinian resistance; Yahya Ayyash Abu Al-Baraa. Palestine today is in dire need of your patriotic spirit and vengeance for the spirit of the martyr Sheikh Saleh Abu Muhammad. Martyrs do not die

Ayyash was eliminated on January 5th 1996 by the Shin Bet.

The second-last line of Hannoun’s post is dedicated to Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon who died in a drone strike on January 2nd, 2024.

Shortly after, Hannoun posted the photo of Israeli journalist Litai Shemesh sitting behind her anchor desk with a gun tucked into the waistband of her trousers and the comment in Italian language: “corrupt criminals and terrorist journalists”.

Underneath, a series of horrendous sexist comments by other users with both, Italian and Arab names. No surprise, considering what Hamas did to women on October 7th.

Now the question is: why haven’t the Italian authorities intervened yet? It is worth recalling that measures were taken against pro-Isis activists for much less. Therefore, why is Hannoun’s propaganda of hate, jihad and his glorification of Hamas terrorists being tolerated? Do we have to wait until someone picks up Hannoun’s violent rhetoric and decides to perpetrate an attack? Because at that point, nobody will be able to say “I didn’t know”.

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
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