Italian police dismantle antisemitic, racist online group

ROME — Italian police have dismantled an online group dedicated to antisemitic and racist propaganda that incited young people to carry out extreme actions, authorities said Monday.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said the crackdown included blacking out the website of the group that claims 17,000 members, including people abroad.

Italian postal police and Carabinieri paramilitary police began the investigation in 2019. Authorities said militants who adhered to the group ranged in age from 26 to 62.

LaPresse, an Italian news agency, said 12 persons have been ordered to regularly sign in with police as a way to monitor their movements. Lamorgese said the network “exploited the fragility” of young people. Dismantled thanks to the investigation was “an antisemitic and racist group particularly active on social media,” she said.

Lamorgese said the online site “was inciting youths to carry out extreme gestures.” Lamorgese didn’t elaborate, but LaPresse said a “NATO structure” was among the targets of a plan to attack with homemade explosive devices.

The dozen suspects are being investigated for alleged association aimed at propaganda and for instigating ethnic and religious discrimination, LaPresse said.

Ruth Dureghello, president of Rome’s Jewish Community, tweeted her gratitude for the dismantling of the group, which she said was planning attacks against Jews and non-European Union foreigners.

”Today the antisemitic propaganda on social media is a prelude to other forms of violence,” she wrote.