Italy has been swept by alarmist rumors in recent days since the posting of a video showing the Islamic State group’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, which is a former Italian colony.
The tape, released earlier in February, included a warning that Libya, a few hundred kilometers across the Mediterranean, could be used as a staging ground for attacks on Italy and that IS fighters were “at the south of Rome.”
After the release of the tape, Islamic State supporters began using the hashtag #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome to signify the impending advance of the self-styled caliphate on the city and on the seat of the Catholic Church in the Vatican.
For the government in Italy, the prospect of IS-inspired attacks was cause for real concern. Indeed, the Italian foreign minister said last week that Rome would weigh participating in any military intervention to keep Islamic State forces from advancing in Libya.
But while some in Italy fear the risk that terrorists, mingled among boatloads of migrants, could reach Italy from Libya, others have greeted the prospect with humor.
They exploited the #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome Twitter hashtag to offer mock travel advice to IS operatives, including warnings about Rome’s terrible traffic congestion and restaurant recommendations.
— nitpickette (@nitpickette01) February 22, 2015
— Nik (@Nickinackynoo) February 21, 2015
— Mauro Giulivi (@MauroGiulivi) February 20, 2015
#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome hey just a tip: don't come in train, it's every time late!
— Giuseppe Di Chiara (@Giu_DiChiara) February 19, 2015
— iCY beats (@iCYbts) February 19, 2015
— Jenny Mandy Williams (@70jennywilliams) February 21, 2015
— Giuseppe S. (@micios68) February 21, 2015
#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome So you are coming to Rome to "win" some Virgins? and you think you got a shot at that against Italian men? Ahahahah!
— Valeria (@ValeriaSxox) February 21, 2015
— hannah gais (@hannahgais) February 21, 2015
After ISIS threatens to use The Leaning Tower of Pisa to "toss off" homosexuals there's a queue stretching to Florence #we_are_coming_o_rome
— GJC (@enoch_macdhu) February 21, 2015
AP and AFP contributed to this report.