Something very disturbing happened late Wednesday night at Rome's Fiumicino international airport (emphases mine):
Three Algerians forced open the emergency exit of an Alitalia passenger plane while it was heading for take-off at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, slid down the safety slides that were activated and escaped from the airport late on Wednesday night, an Alitalia spokesman said.“When the plane was taxiing, in the preliminary stages of approaching the runway, these people forced open a door and slid down the slides that were activated, and then they escaped,” the Alitalia spokesman told The Local.
The three Algerians had departed from Algiers and were due to to Istanbul after a layover in Rome, the spokesman said.
They are still missing. They were among a group of Algerians on the Alitalia AZ702 flight who had been denied entry to Italy, according to media reports [more].
It is baffling to fathom how the three Algerians managed to open the door and escape the plane - after being refused entrance into the country - but even more baffling is the fact that they seemingly managed to escaped from the airport itself.
None of the news reports I have seen thus far indicate why the three men were refused entrance into Italy. One report provides a little background information about them:
The three men, aged 21, 24 and 27 were among 18 Algerians aboard the scheduled flight from Rome to Istanbul who were due to be deported.One of the men had previously been deported from Italy and all three had entered Italy during a stopover in Rome on the outward flight from Algiers to Istanbul [more].
The incident is yet still more disturbing. The three men were part of a group of 18 Algerians and had one-way tickets to Istanbul. To my mind, everything indicates an involvement with the Islamic State.
The Islamic State has had a presence in Algeria for several months now. In September of 2014, Jund al-Khilafah - which has allegiance to the Islamic State - beheaded a French hiker the terrorist group had captured. In December of 2014, the Algerian announced it had killed the man behind the beheading.
A report issued in January of 2015 indicated that since October 2014 - in just four months - at least 250 Algerians joined the Islamic State as foreign fighters.
The Islamic State made threats against Italy and the Vatican City State in February 2015, which prompted both nations to go on high alert. In March of 2015, the Islamic State announced a list of cities across the world it wants to bring under the control of the caliphate. Among the list of cities was Rome. Last month, supporters of the Islamic State posted threatening photographs from within the city of Rome indicating they are "waiting for the zero hour." And earlier this week the government of Libya warned Italy that the Islamic State will be in Italy "in the coming weeks," arriving by way of migrant boats.
Long before all of this, though, in October of 2014, the Islamic State announced its greatest hopes for Rome with the cover of an issue of its magazine, Dabiq:
It is long past time to start taking the threats of the Islamic State seriously.
Please, pray for the conversion of those governing the Islamic State. Pray for the conversion of those working for the Islamic State. Pray for the conversion of those fighting for the Islamic State.
Pray, too, for those suffering persecution under the Islamic State. Pray for those whom the Islamic State has driven from their homes. Pray for those killed by the Islamic State.
Pray, too, for those who fight against the Islamic State. Pray for those who collect intelligence information about the activities of the Islamic State. Pray for those who must decide what course of action to take against the Islamic State.
Pray, too, for those who will suffer persecution under the Islamic State and who will live under its cruelty.
It may be that these three Algerians - and the fifteen others also refused entrance into Italy - have nothing at all to do with the Islamic State. I hope this is the case, but I fear it is otherwise.