The Italian media alleges that the four people arrested on Tuesday are under suspicion of smuggling helicopters and surface-to-air missiles in violation of international embargoes.
According to La Repubblica, the couple Mario Di Leva and Annamaria Fontana, and a legal representative for Rome-based Società Italiana Elicotteri, Andrea Pardi, were already part of another investigation into arms trafficking and recruitment of mercenaries between Italy and Somalia. The Libyan national is identified as Mohamud Ali Shaswish. La Repubblica reported that all are accused of smuggling air ambulances as well as the weapons to Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015. The air ambulances were then converted into military helicopters.
However, Reuters news agency reported that the three Italians were arrested, but police are still looking for the Libyan man.
Citing police, Reuters reported that the military equipment was manufactured in the ex-Soviet bloc and shipped from third countries, including Ukraine and Tunisia.
Investigations are focusing on the possible trafficking of arms destined to a group which supports ISIS in Libya.
Di Leva is said to have converted to Islam, and changed his name to Jafaar. He is reputedly being investigated for suspected radicalization.
La Repubblica also reported that prosecutors have in their possession a picture of the couple, Di Leva and Fontana, with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.