Netherlands arrests alleged commander of Syrian Islamist group

Netherlands arrests alleged commander of Syrian Islamist group
2 min read
26 October, 2019
Dutch prosecutors accused the suspect of committing war crimes in Syria.
Universal jurisdiction laws allow the Netherlands to prosecute such crimes [AFP]
Dutch authorities this week arrested an alleged former commander of the Syrian militant group Ahrar al-Sham on suspicion of having committed war crimes.

Police arrested the 29-year-old Syrian man was arrested on Tuesday in a center for asylum seekers in the north of the Netherlands, Reuters reported.

He is accused of acting as a commander for extremist militant group Ahrar al-Sham, which operates in the northwest of wartorn Syria

While the group is not recognised as such by the United Nations or European Union, Ahrar al-Sham was designated a terrorist group earlier this year by a criminal court in Rotterdam.

Similar cases in Germany have also seen alleged members of the group described as members of a terrorist organisation.

The unnamed man is accused of war crimes for posing with the body of an enemy fighter and kicking another corpse during fighting in Hama in 2015, the public prosecutor's office said on Friday. 

Under Dutch law, his alleged actions are considered violations of the personal dignity of war victims. Universal jurisdiction laws enable the Netherlands to prosecute such crimes even though they did not occur in the country.

The suspect registered himself at the asylum seekers' center earlier this month, but had already been flagged by the German authorities after registering briefly as an asylum seeker there four years ago. 

He is also suspected of appearing in a YouTube video, singing to celebrate the deaths of fighters and "referring to them as dogs".

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