Kickboxing champion Abderrahim Moutaharrik, 28, who was arrested on Thursday with his wife, Salma Bencharki, 26, in Lombardy, northern Italy, for allegedly planning to flee Italy for Syria with their two children, ages 2 and 4, is insisting they were only planning to go to Syria to help the suffering children there, La Repubblica reported.
Moutaharrik also denied that he was planning an attack the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome.
The couple was arrested as part of an investigation conducted by the Italian anti-terror squad and the Special Operations Group fighting organized crime. Police released pictures of Moutaharrik in his kickboxing kit and a keffiyeh, and a black shirt styled after the ISIS flag.
Talk about the fashion police…
“I saw images of children being tortured and I wanted to go to Syria to help the people and not to enrol with ISIS,” Moroccan born Moutaharrik told a magistrates at Milan’s San Vittore prison.
The couple’s lawyer told reporters his clients had “told the magistrates that they grew up in Italy and would never want to seriously hurt anyone.”
Did we say the accused is a kickboxing champion?
Arrest warrants were also issued Thursday against Alice (Aisha) Brignoli, 39, and her husband, Mohamed Koraich, who have allegedly left Italy a year ago to join ISIS in Syria. Koraich’s sister, Wafa, was arrested in the town of town of Baveno, Piedmont, and Abderrahmane Khachia, 23, a Moroccan, was arrested in Varese, Lombardy. Police say Khachia’s brother was a jihadist who died in Syria.