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Dutch police arrest alleged IS security chief for war crimes

January 17, 2023

Police in the Netherlands have arrested a man who allegedly played a key role in both Jabhat al-Nusra and the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant groups.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant propaganda photo showing masked militants firing weapons
The suspect is believed to have been active for the al-Nusra Front before switching to ISImage: Dabiq/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

The Dutch public prosecutor's office on Tuesday said police had arrested a 37-year-old man suspected of links to war crimes.

The office said the individual was said to have played an important role with two terrorist organizations — Jabhat al-Nusra and the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) — in the Syrian Civil War.

What we know so far

Police made the arrest in the southwestern village of Arkel, where the suspect, who is Syrian, was living after he was granted asylum, a prosecution service statement said.

"It is suspected that between 2015 and 2018, the man held a managerial position in the security service of IS," it said.

"From his position at IS, he also contributed to the war crimes that the organization committed in Syria," the statement explained.

Before that, he is believed to have been the head of security for two years for the al-Nusra Front, which is classed as a terrorist organization by many Western countries.

Windmill of Arkel a small village in Molenlanden in South-Holland in The Netherlands
The suspect had been living in the small town of Arkel in South HollandImage: Hilda Weges/Zoonar/picture alliance

At that time, the man is said to have been active in and around the Yarmuk refugee camp, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Officials did not name the suspect, who is set to appear in a magistrates' court in The Hague on Friday.

He applied for asylum in 2019 and moved to Arkel a year later. Investigators began looking at what case the man had to answer "after information was received about his past."

Police in the Netherlands have made numerous arrests linked to Syria in recent years, including foreign nationals who had sought asylum there and Dutch nationals who went to Syria to fight.

Since it began with a crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011, the war in Syria is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions.

rc/wmr (AFP, AP, dpa)