The twenty most brutal attacks by Latin-American gangs in Milan

Copyright ©  Sec-Ter – A street gang graffiti in Milan’s Trotter park

In the last twelve years, the northern Italian city of Milan has been constantly dealing with the issue of Latin-American street-gangs. The phenomenon brought the city on various international news websites, such as in June 2015, when The Independent published an article with a more than meaningful title: “Milan struggles to cope as Latin American gang violence starts afflicting general public”. The problem even caught the attention of the Salvadoran press, with two articles written by news reporter Roberto Valencia for El Faro and Internazionale (this second one with the title “Milan, the European capital of Salvadoran gangs”).

The following is a list of episodes, retrieved through open source search, that includes murders and violent attacks perpetrated with machetes, knives, picks or broken bottles in a timeline that goes from 2007 to 2019 within the province of Milan.

In March 2007, an 18 years-old Ecuadorian national and Latin Kings Chicago member was stabbed to death by a fellow countryman belonging to the rival “Comando” street gang. The murder occurred outside a disco located in eastern Milan. [1] [2] [3] [4]

In July 2008, an 18th Street gang member was attacked by a group of MS13 members; in the fight, the individual lost an eye as a consequence of wounds inflicted with a machete. The episode occurred in south Milan during a Salvadoran festival. [5] [6] [7] [8]

In June 2009, an Ecuadorian citizen and leader of the Latin Kings NY street gang was stabbed to death by rival gang members outside a disco club in south Milan. [9] [10] [11] [12]

In September 2010, four members of the gangs Latin Kings NY and MS13 were arrested for the beating and stabbing of a Latin Kings Chicago gang member outside “Cobà” disco in Milan. [13] [14]

In February 2010, an Egyptian citizen was stabbed to death by a Dominican citizen who was riding a bus with two friends in Milan’s via Padova. The Dominicans turned out to be close to the Trinitario gang, even if there have been no confirmations about their full membership. [15] [16] [17] [18]

In January 2011, an Ecuadoran citizen member of the gang Trinitario was stabbed to death by a group of Peruvian citizens belonging to the “Comando” street gang in Cinisello. [19] [20] [21] [22]

In September 2011, a gang member is attacked and wounded with belts and a knife inside a bus near Milan’s Piazzale Lodi. [23]

In October 2011, a Trebol gang member is severely wounded with a knife outside the disco “Secreto” in via Boncompagni. [24] [25]

In November 2011, an MS13 gang member was attacked and wounded by rival gang members armed with a machete; the raid occurred inside a store in central Milan, not far from the notorious Duomo square. [26] [27] [28] [29]

In January 2012, a Latin American young individual is beaten, stabbed and robbed by a group of MS13 and Latin Kings NY members inside the Missori subway station. [30] [31]

In January 2014, a Latin King Luzbel member is wounded with a knife by rival gang members inside the subway in Sesto Rondò. [32] [33]

In February 2014, two Comando gang members are wounded with a knife in Milan’s De Angeli subway stop. [34] [35]

In June 2015, a train inspector checking tickets inside a convoy was attacked with a machete by a group of MS13 gang members and his arm was almost amputated in the attack. The episode took place in the Villapizzone train station. [36] [37] [38] [39]

In May 2016, a 20 years-old Ecuadorian citizen known as “el Loko” and linked to the Latin Kings NY attacked and robbed a Nieta gang member in Porto di Mare’s subway station. [40] [41] [42]

In July 2016, an 18 years-old Albanian citizen who had nothing to do with street gangs was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of MS13 members while boarding a tram in Milan’s Porta Lodovica area. [43] [44] [45] [46]

In November 2016, a Dominican drug pusher was shot and stabbed to death in central “Piazzale Loreto” as a consequence of a drug deal gone wrong. The two killers, two Dominican citizens considered close to the Trinitario gang, were soon identified and while one was arrested a few weeks later, the second one is still at large. [47] [48] [49]

In June 2018, four MS13 members attacked and severely wounded with a screwdriver a young Salvadoran outside a well-known disco in south Milan. [50] [51] [52]

In February 2019, a Salvadoran citizen and MS13 member was murdered by three other members of his own gang in San Giuliano Milanese. The individual had taken part in the attack against the 18th Street gang member in July 2008. [53] [54] [55] [56]

In June 2019, a Peruvian citizen was mugged, beaten and thrown inside a river in Milan’s “Lambro” park by two Salvadoran citizens and members of the 18th Street gang. The victim’s dead body was recovered by the police 5 days later. The attackers were identified and arrested shortly after. [57] [58] [59] [60]

In December 2019, a Salvadoran citizen claiming to be a member of the MS13 gang, severely wounded to the neck a fellow country-man with a broken bottle outside a disco in Milan’s Rovereto area and then fled the scene. The attacker was arrested a few weeks later after robbing a supermarket in south Milan. [61] [62] [63] [64]

The Latin-American street gang phenomenon in Milan is characterized by an extreme violence that caused 8 deaths in a period of time that goes from 2007 to 2019.  While these numbers might not impress cities as New York or Los Angeles, where the street-gang phenomenon has ancient history, they are considered quite alarming in a city of less than 2 million people such as Milan, where the phenomenon is very recent. In addition to the murders, one peculiarity that clearly struck the public opinion is its brutality of such cases, with frequent use of machetes to maim and kill.

Unlike in the US or in Latin America, these groups have no control over the territory in Italy and their violence is mostly oriented against each other, just for the sake of it and defined as “mirror violence” by Italian gang expert Massimo Conte from “Codici Ricerca“. However, there have been some cases of attacks against “outsiders”, people not involved in gangs and street issues.

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The 02/02 London knife-man: profile and context analysis

The Terror Event

On February 2nd 2020, at approximately 2pm, a 20 year old individual stole a knife from a shop located on Streatham High Road, London, and he immediately began stabbing civilians passing by. [1]

Police officers reached the scene approximately one minute after the attacker initiated the assault and shot him dead. The officers saw that a device was strapped to his body and called in specialist explosives officers and additional armed officers to deal with the potential threat. The suicide vest then turned out to be fake. Three civilians were injured in the attack and in the police counter-offensive. [2]

The attacker, Sudesh Amman, was under police surveillance at the time of the attack as he had just been released from prison and was being hosted at a near-by bail hostel (while in Approved Permises). [3]

The Attacker

1. Personal Info

Name: Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman (20)

DOB: December, 1999

POB: Harrow, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Citizenship: British

Mother: Hamila Khan (41)

Father: Faraz Khan (44)

Siblings: five younger brothers

Notes about the family:

  • Sri Lankan origins;
  • Children brought up by the mother;
  • Father (described as a womanizer and drinker) left family after meeting another woman and moving back to Sri Lanka;
  • Social services were involved with the family. 

Personal Activities:

  • Sudesh Amman was raised in North-East Harrow, home to a vast Sri Lankan Muslim community;
  • He attended Park High School in Stanmore;
  • He studied Math and Science at the London North West College (Sept 2017-May 2018). According to his mother, he wanted to study Bio-Medic Sciences;
  • He attended mosque in traditional clothes.

2. Online Activity

The post-millenial Sudesh Amman was an assiduous internet user.

He spread pro Isis and pro al-Qaeda propaganda through Whatsapp and Telegram. He sent to behading video to his girlfriend telling her to kill her parents, described as “misbelievers”.

In April 2018 Dutch online jihadist hunter and blogger, Azazel van den Berg, captured screenshots showing Amman as having posted an image of a jihadi black flag along with another of two guns and a knife and with the writing “armed and ready” indicating a supposed attack date, the 3rd of April (see the picture).

Screenshot taken from Telegram by the dutch blogger and “jihadwatcher”, Van den Berg

Faraz Amman stated the Quranic legitimacy of raping Yazidi women.

He shared jihadist material in a family group on Whatsapp (which included mother and brothers) where he incited to perpetrate pipe-bomb attacks. He also shared instructions to build improvised explosive devices with an unknown user.

Ha was probably a Call of Duty player (a shooter videogame) and, as he wrote in a Telegram chat, he wanted to bring the game to real life. He claimed: “we want to have fun with hoor al ayn [the virgins in paradise] and play COD irl [play Call of Duty in real life]”. He also used the nickname “stragertothisworld” in online communities. [4] [5] [6]

3. The Arrest

In May 2018 Faraz Amman was arrested by Met Counter Terrorism agents and charged with nine offences of dissemination of terrorist material and seven offences of collection of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, in relation to the material found on his digital devices. He was first been under police observation due to a claim posted on Telegram (see the “armed n rdy” picture above). In December 2018, Faraz Amman was sentenced to three years and four months of prison, but he was released early, on January 23rd 2020. [7] [8]

During the arrest search in his apartment the police seized:

  • Air gun
  • Black Isis flag
  • Combat knife
  • “Bloody Brazilian Knife Fighting Techniques” (book)
  • “US Army Knife Fighting Manual Techniques and Close Combat” (book)
  • “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” (article from an al-Qaeda magazine)
  • “US Army Improvised munition handbook” (book)
  • “The Anarchist’s cookbook” (book)

He consequently spent 13 month confined in the Belmarsh High Security Prison.

4. Radicalization Path

It is possible to identify two phases in Faraz Amman’s radicalization path.

1st phase, pre-arrest (prior to May 2018)

Influencing factors: male family friend and online activity and contacts.

It is yet unknown if individuals attending the mosques in Harrow may have had any type of influence in Faraz Amman’s radicalization path.

2nd phase, incarceration time (Dec 2018 – Jan 2020)

Influencing factors: supposed socialization with criminals.

5. Acquaintances opinions

Peers Opinions

Classmates affirmed that he liked to pose in gangster-style look and he had even told them: “When I grow up I am going to be a terrorist”.

They described him as a “weird loner” obsessed with knives and constantly using marijuana.

One former female classmate exposed how Faraz Amman kept saying:“I am going to bomb you…I have got a grenade in my pocket and if you take one step closer to me I am going to set it off.”

Another schoolmate described him as a ‘weird’ dope-smoker who skipped school and showed up in dirty uniform. [9] [10]

Neighbors Opinions

Some neighbors described the family as problematic: “The family was noisy, always trouble in there. The house was smashed up, there were fights inside, holes in the walls”.

Others point them out as a “loving family” and Sudesh Faraz Amman as “a nice and polite boy”.

Another neighbor pointed out to the religious factor: “I used to see him go to the mosque. Before that he was all right and he started going there and he kind of changed, you could see it in him”. [11]

Final Comments

Sudesh Mamoor Faraz Amman wanted to die as a martyr, as emerged by the written content found by police agents in his notebook and by previous claims made to his former classmates, as well as during the trial.

The notes found by the police expressed a clear motivation: 1- die as a “shahid” (martyr); 2. Go to “Jannah” (heaven); 3- Have fun with the hoor al ayin (virigins); 4- party with his brothers and mother (in heaven). The fact that he was wearing a fake suicide vest only confirms this suicidal tendency, as the intent was plausibly to receive fatal gun shots and to reach heaven.

Faraz Amman took action only 10 days after being released from prison and was under police surveillance. This could very well mean that the individual had clear plans way before his release and that the time spent behind bars only contributed to an additional radicalization.

The ID used by the attacker in some chatrooms (“Stranger to this world”) could indicate how he felt different from others or, eventually, how he wanted to be different. It is also evident how the terrorist “figure” satisfied his need for a new identity.

His fascination for violence (knives, explosives, combat publications, shooting games, beheadings) combined with the traits of a loner who did not hide his thoughts, clearly raised some red flags.

One conclusive consideration must be made in relation to his early release from prison, which remains a big question mark to many. Why did that occur? The British judicial system will have some explaining to do.











[11] Ibid

The French banlieue crisis

A brief comment on the Dgsi document leak

According to a leaked classified document of the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI), 150 neighborhoods in Paris and other major French cities’ suburbs such as in Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille are currently controlled by Islamist radicals, as exposed by “Le Journal du Dimanche” (LJD). Additionally, strong Islamist presence was also reported in suburbs of smaller cities throughout the country. [1] [2] [3]

The objective of this brief comment is not to go into details on the specific situations but rather to point out that the phenomenon should not surprise the public opinion, as the signs of such an outcome was more than predictable and traceable in the following equation: “Islamism and extremist ideology finds an easy way in when there is no institutional control over the territory”.

First of all, it is important to recall how at the end of the 1990’s, French authorities were already aware of the difficult situation involving the suburbs in Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Over 700 of them were classified as declining and sensitive to crime.

Such ghettos are mainly inhabited by 3rd and 4th generations of French citizens of African origin who do not feel part of French society, but rather third-class citizens, neglected by the State. In some of these hoods the general unemployment rate reaches 40% and the youth rate up to 60%.

It is proven that bad economic and social conditions are fertile soil for extremism, as already seen in other contexts in the Balkans and northern Caucasus, for instance.

The riots in the French suburbs in 2005 and 2017 should have been a clear sign that something had to be done, but the situation had been neglected for too long on an institutional level, and the worse it gets, the harder it is to find solutions.

The approximate 1900 foreign fighters who left France to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq are another clear sign of distress within the French society. Going beyond the jihadist phenomenon, there is a precise aspect that often remains unnoticed, the fact that French citizens, many of them coming from the suburbs, (Muslims, but sill French) are willing to risk their lives and embrace another identity.

This means that Islamist radicalism did not only infiltrate the suburbs of major French cities, but it also infiltrated the hearts and minds of many French Muslims. The risk is not only “a State within a State”, as some point out, but also an extraneous identity making its way into the vacuum left by the State.