Italian anti-terror investigators have broken up a migrant smuggling ring whose leader had sworn loyalty to the Daesh ‘Islamic State’ and was known in his neighborhood by the nickname “Bin Laden.”

Eight men  – two Moroccans, three Tunisians, two Bangladeshis and an Algerian – were arrested by Carabinieri police in the Caserta province 11 kilometers north of Naples on suspicion of people smuggling and falsifying documents.

One of them, Tunisian Mohamed Kamel Khemiri, is also under investigation for alleged links with terrorism.

Carabinieri investigators said Mr. Khemiri, 41,  had become a radical Islamist in recent months, even becoming known by the nickname  “Bin Laden.”

Police placed him under surveillance after he was arrested on drug smuggling charges and noted he had celebrated terror attacks in France on Facebook.

In January, he was caught on a phone wiretap in Arabic saying “As long as I live I will be an ‘Islamic State’ man, and if I die I call on you to join.”

At a press conference held in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, anti-terrorism squad general Giuseppe Governale said that while Mr. Khemiri had not yet taken action, police believe he could be a terror risk.

“He is a dangerous subject, also because he is intelligent and knows how to make himself heard,” Mr. Governale told reporters, adding that Khemiri was considered the “factotum” of his neighborhood mosque.