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The New Arab Staff

Family of Jaysh al-Islam spokesman accuse French of torture

Jaysh Al-Islam are the main suspects in the killing of four activists in 2013. [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 March, 2021

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Relatives of Islam Alloush have claim the Jaysh al-Islam spokesman has been subject to torture inside a French prison.
Relatives of a jailed spokesman for the violent Islamist group Jaysh al-Islam have accused the French authorities of torture.

Writing in a series of tweets the family of Majdi Nehme, who goes by the name Islam Alloush, have claimed that he was “subjected to physical and psychological torture”.

Islam Alloush was arrested in January 2020 and charged by French authorities with torture, war crimes and complicity in forced disappearances.

Posting a picture of Alloush with blooshot eyes and bruising to his face, the family claimed that the charges against the Islamist are based on, “malicious charges that seek to take revenge rather than a commitment to seek the truth.”

The family claim that they have been prevented from travelling to France to visit their jailed relative and that they were misled about the reasons for his arrest. The also allege he has been tortured “in the most horrific of ways that almost led to his death.”

The family also accused the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) of “misleading justice, fabricating accusations and covering up crimes of torture and enforced disappearance”.

The SCM is an independent organisation that promotes human rights and works to achieve justice for the victims of the Assad regime and terrorist organisations in Syria. 

The family provided no further evidence, beyond the published photo, which has not been verified. 

French authorities have not responded to the claims.

Jaysh al-Islam is one of a number of hardline Islamist groups that is operating in Syria, and controlled eastern Ghouta until the area was assaulted by the Syrian regime in 2018.

Jaysh al-Islam have been accused of multiple crimes, including torture, using child soldiers, and complicity in forced disappearance. 

Read more: Syria Insight: Russia's intervention five years on (Part 1)

The group’s crimes rose to prominence with their suspected involvement in the December 2013 kidnapping of the Syrian activist Razan Zaitouneh, her husband Wael Hamada and two colleagues, Samira Khalil and Nazem Hammadi. The party went missing in eastern Ghouta and have never been found.

Zaitouneh was one of the most prominent civil society figures in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that erupted in March 2011.

The arrest of Islam Alloush, who was studying in France when he was captured, was widely welcomed and seen as an opportunity for the victims of the hardline group to secure justice. 

Similar feelings were expressed recently in Germany, when a former member of Assad’s secret police was found guilty of war crimes and handed a four and a half year prison sentence. 

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