According to reports in Italian newspapers, a Pakistani man named Aftab Farook, who was expelled from Italy for allegedly plotting an attack in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) group, used to captain the Italian U-19 cricket team in 2009. In photos published in 2009 by Sportweek, a weekly insert in Italian sport daily Gazzetta Dello and re-issued in the media on Wednesday, the suspect could be identified as the captain of the under-19 national team, wearing the Italian colours jersey in international competitions, the report said.
The 26-year old was allegedly caught on a wiretap talking about using a Kalashnikov or bomb to attack targets such as a wine shop in Milan or the airport of Bergamo in northern Italy, saying the important thing was to scare Europeans.
On Tuesday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that Aftab supported ISIS and was planning to go to Syria to join the terror organisation.
“It hit us like lightning out of the blue, I still don’t believe it,” Fabio Marabini, president of the Kingsgrove Milano cricket club and a close paternal figure to Farook, told La Stampa daily.
“I spoke to him just before they put him on the flight for Islamabad. He thanked me for everything I’ve done for him over the years and he told me he was scared because he no longer has any ties in Pakistan.”
The surprising news stunned the residents of Vaprio d’Adda near Milan, where Farook had lived with his family since he was 13 years old.
La Stampa reported that Farook was keen on snowboarding and also worked for sporting goods retailer Decathlon.He also used to volunteer in his spare time as a driver of a bus for disabled people. However, reports in the daily also claimed that Farook had changed over the past year or so, and had begun beating his wife and forcing her to wear a burqa.
“He would never have hurt a fly. He was made the captain of the national team precisely because he was a trustworthy person, always ready to help others,” Marabini said.
Meanwhile, Farook’s family is planning to challenge the extradition at the European Court of Human Rights after he was expelled from the country on Tuesday.