Italian authorities have arrested a suspected Islamic State (Isis) recruiter near Venice. Police believe Ajahn Veapi, from Macedonia, was the right-hand man in Italy of a jailed Bosnian imam allegedly responsible for a wide jihadi recruiting network in Europe.

Veapi was held in the north east town of Mestre. Police alleged he brainwashed local men into joining IS (Daesh) in Syria. Among his recruits were Ismar Mesinovic, a Bosnian man living in nearby Belluno who travelled to the war-torn country in 2013, bringing along his 2-year-old son.

Mesinovic was killed one year later and the child's whereabouts have since remained unknown. In January, his mother, Lidia Solano Herrera, made a passionate plea for information. "I ask those who hold my child to give him back to me," she told the state-owned Rai television.

Giuseppe Governale, the head of Carabinieri police's anti-terror squad, said Veapi was an operative of a jihadi organisation headquartered in Bosnia headed by radical Muslim cleric Husein Bosnic. He described Bosnic as a "chief recruiter" and "Islamist ideologue" that secretively worked to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Balkans linked to IS.

"To achieve this goal he employed a number of men of Balkan origins as recruiters," Governale told Ansa news agency. "Among them was Yeapi, who became the network's point man for northeastern Italy."