Ex-Syrian spy chief 'moved to Austria with Mossad help'
Brigadier General Khaled al-Halabi – a chief of Syrian intelligence in the northeast city of Raqqa from 2009 to 2013 – started a "new life" in Austria with the help of Israeli intelligence, The Telegraph reported, citing a judicial source.
Al-Halabi defected in 2013. Later that year, Raqqa was claimed by rebels, giving Al-Halabi the change to slip out with refugees to Turkey.
Al-Halabi, however, was the target of a legal complaint for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According to The Telegraph, prisoners were allegedly tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered while he was in charge of a Raqqa facility. He denies all accusations.
Al-Halabi reportedly traveled to France in 2014, but was denied asylum due to concerns of involvement in human rights violations that his position could have allowed.
The concerns prompted an investigation by the French War Crimes Unit, while Al-Halabi was reportedly spirited out by Israeli agents to Austria – where he was granted asylum in 2015.
"We wanted to quiz him about all the testimonies we have gathered. It is very frustrating as he was a top target," the article cited a French judicial source as saying.
"As he was really peeved not to get asylum in France, he appears to have made contact with Mossad who got in contact with Austria's BVT," the judicial source told The Telegraph. "Mossad must also have thought he could be interesting and perhaps even play a political role in the future."
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The Commission for International Justice and Accountability has presented a legal brief to Austrian authorities, outlining what it claims is evidence of involvement in war crimes.
"We have documents, we have interrogation reports ... we have quite a few insider witnesses and testimony from about 40 victims who were tortured," CIJA director Nerma Jelacic told the outlet.
Jelacic told The Telegraph Al-Halabi is "the highest-ranking Syrian regime official that can be found in the Schengen Zone".
Despite the accusations and legal complaints, Al-Halabi is beleived to still be in Europe, traveling between Austria, Slovakia and Switzerland.