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Suspect in Italian drive-by shooting spree had ties to fascist groups

The man arrested for gunning down six people in a small Italian city last Saturday had strong ties to fascist and neo-Nazi groups, authorities said.

Suspect Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian, confessed to wounding six African immigrants in a shooting spree in Macerata that he said was in retaliation for a murder committed by a Nigerian drug dealer.

Following the gunman’s arrest, Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti attributed Traini’s actions to “racial hatred,” and noted he had "a background of right-wing extremism with clear references to fascism and Nazism."

Traini has a tattoo of a Wolfsangel rune on his forehead, a symbol popular with neo-Nazis for its use by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Italian newswire service ANSA described him as a “militant for the anti-migrant League” — a right-wing party, also called the Northern League, that has been criticized by opponents as xenophobic — and reported that he had ties to Italian ultranationalist, fascist parties like Forza Nuova and CasaPound. Authorities also found a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in his home.

Immigration is a contentious topic in the upcoming Italian elections, which will take place March 4. Anti-migrant politicians brought the issue to the forefront after the murder of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro, for which the prime suspect is an alleged drug dealer and Nigerian immigrant. But Saturday’s shooting spree complicated the narrative. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, and Silvio Berlusconi, center-right leader and scandal-ridden former prime minister, stood by their platforms for deporting migrants. They justified their positions by explaining the mass shooting attack as a backlash to migration, and argued migrants should bear the political consequences.

Berlusconi, a media tycoon who’s been embroiled in numerous controversies, including a scandal involving an underage prostitute, suggested that 600,000 migrants were “ready” to commit crime.

“Today we have almost 630,000 immigrants, of which only 30,000 have the right to stay here because they are refugees,” he said. “Another 600,000 are tantamount to a social bomb ready to explode, because they live by the expedient of committing crimes.”

Salvini, leader of the League, condemned the violence, but added, “unchecked immigration brings chaos, anger” and “drug dealing, thefts, rapes and violence.” As part of his campaign, Salvini has promised to deport 150,000 migrants. Traini once ran for local office as a candidate with the League, and has called Salvini his “captain.”

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