In an investigation that led to a bigger suspected terrorism-funding network, Italian police announced on Monday that they had arrested four individuals accused of transmitting payments to persons across Europe and the Middle East who were collecting on behalf of Islamic State.
The four men were accused of sending a total of 30,000 euros via a money transfer service in Andria, in southeastern Italy, to 42 terrorist fund collectors in Serbia, Germany, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand and Russia.
Subsequent investigations showed the same 42 collectors had received as much as 1 million euros in suspicious transfers from other sources, said Luca Cioffi, a colonel in the Italian tax police.
The payments made by the men arrested on Monday included 5,000 euros sent to two Russians, days before an attack on a church in southern Russia that killed five women, Cioffi said.
“The guys arrested today are unemployed and have no income,” Cioffi told Reuters, “so investigations are still ongoing to uncover who was giving them money to send abroad.”
The investigation began in 2017 after anti-mafia prosecutors in Bari received a tip from Paris prosecutors about two 950-euro transactions from a tiny agency in southern Italy to a Lebanese person suspected by the French of being a money collector for foreign fighters in Syria.