In November 2008 the pair were stopped in the Italian port town where they had disembarked from a ferry from Greece. A search of their vehicle turned up 5 illegal immigrants – three Palestinians and two Syrians – who were shipped back to Greece while Ayachi, and his apparent disciple, Gendron were taken to jail.
A search of their vehicle turned up an assortment of fundamentalist Islamic propaganda on DVDs and in particular on 6 pen drives belonging to the pair. Ayachi, it turned out, was the imam of a Brussels mosque and the two men reportedly had links to at least a dozen other people who were arrested last December in France and Belgium and are also under investigation for international terrorism and training and recruiting for terrorist purposes.
French police sources told the Italian news agency ANSA that anti-terrorism police in France and Belgium knew Ayachi and Gendron, who they suspect were involved in and organization recruiting and sending volunteers to fight in the jihad or holy war in Afghanistan.
While investigators started going through the files on the pen drives, they also placed microphones in the prison cell Ayachi and Gendron share in the Bari prison.
Ornella Romito, the lawyer for Ayachi and Gendron, told La Repubblica that his clients "are calm and serene, and confident they will be able to show they have nothing to do with the things they are accused of."