Italian who beheaded maid wanted to fight Hamas, friend says

Italian who beheaded maid wanted to fight Hamas, friend says

Federico Leonelli wanted to 'sign up at any cost,' but reportedly had twice been denied visa to Israel

Rome, Italy (photo credit: Moyan Brenn/Flickr/CCBY)
Rome, Italy (photo credit: Moyan Brenn/Flickr/CCBY)

A man accused of beheading a woman in Rome before being killed by police earlier this week had wanted to come to Israel to fight Hamas, according to reports in the Italian press.

Federico Leonelli, 35, was staying at a friend’s home in the Italian capital when he killed Oksana Martseniuk, the friend’s maid, on Sunday.

Leonelli had recently discovered that he had Jewish heritage and immersed himself in religious text and the “military world,” Giovanni Ciallella, who was allowing Leonelli to stay in his guesthouse, told Italian news source La Repubblica.

Ciallella said that Leonelli twice attempted to obtain a visa to Israel and join the fight against Hamas, but had been denied. He had come to Rome to speak with the Israeli consulate and “sign up at any cost.”

“He told me that he had met a rabbi in Rome and was ready to join the Israeli army against Hamas and terrorists armed with missiles,” Ciallella said, according to a translation by

“At night he watched films by rabbis at full volume which informed him of what was happening in the Gaza strip,” Ciallella said, adding that Leonelli had never left the house during the two months he’d stayed there and had begun acting strangely.

“One day I saw him training in the garden and doing strange somersaults…he had a knife in his hand. When he saw that I was watching him, he hid himself as if he was a thief,” Ciallella said.

Leonelli was killed by police after reportedly threatening them with a meat cleaver while trying to leave the scene.

While earlier reports had indicated that Leonelli murdered Martseniuk because she rejected his romantic advances, Ciallella said it was not the case, but that she texted him that she was afraid of Leonelli the night she was killed.

He didn’t see the message until the next day and did not believe initial reports that it was her because police had told him that that the victim had black hair.

“The police called me and told me that the victim had black hair,” he said. “I thought that it could be his sister, seeing that he had a grudge against her. But it was Oksana. She was blonde, the poor woman, but her hair was soaked in blood.”

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