Dutch prosecution calls for witnesses to prosecute Syrian jihadi suspects

Dutch judicial authorities are looking for more Syrian witnesses to prove that two brothers, charged with alleged membership in the Nusra Front group, were involved in crimes and attacks in Syria.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Dutch judicial authorities are looking for more Syrian witnesses to prove that two brothers, charged with alleged membership in the Nusra Front group, were involved in crimes and attacks in Syria.

The Dutch prosecution says it has difficulties finding proof to prosecute the two suspects that were allegedly involved in crimes in the Syrian civil war.

Formed in 2012, the Nusra Front was linked to al-Qaida and was one of the main extremist groups in Syria fighting the Syrian government and Kurds. It publically broke with al-Qaida in mid-2016 and is now known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Abdelaziz H., 33, and his older brother Fatah H., 42, are suspected of participating in a terrorist organization and being involved in attacks in Syria causing many casualties.

The investigation was launched after activists from the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently recognized Abdelaziz as a jihadi fighter during an event in Amsterdam on Raqqain September 2017.

In phone calls to his relatives, that Dutch authorities tapped, Fatah threatened to take revenge on the activists who “betrayed” his brother.

“If [Abdelaziz] is prosecuted, I will harm them, their relatives, their houses, and sons; I will make them pay,” he said, according to the Dutch Telegraaf newspaper.

The prosecution is now using the tapped phone calls against the two brothers.

Abdelaziz was arrested in his home in Amsterdam at the end of October 2017, and his older brother was arrested two months later. Both are suspected of participating in the armed struggle in Syria. There are also indications that Abdelaziz was possibly an emir (leader) for Nusra in Raqqa.

During the first public hearing in Rotterdam on Feb. 13, the judicial authorities called on the Syrian community to provide witnesses.

During the case, Fatah’s lawyer, Bart Nooitgedagt, argued that the case relied too much on information from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD and the Team Criminal Intelligence (TCI) of the police and that there is not enough proof.

The case against the two brothers received more media attention after Dutch journalist Ans Boersma was deported from Turkey in January. She had a previous relationship with Abdelaziz.

Turkey deported her after Dutch authorities requested information about her and her links to Abdelaziz. She is now suing the Dutch state.

The Dutch news website NL Times reported that the Dutch Public Prosecutor suspects her of forgery because she allegedly helped her ex with a visa application using false information. According to the Prosecutor, Abdelaziz used at least three false passports.

The Dutch Minister of Justice and Security and also Dutch Foreign Minister on Wednesday confirmed that Boersma is suspected of a criminal act in the Netherlands, but not of a terrorist crime.

However, the Dutch state did not request from Turkey to deport her. Moreover, they could not make further comments on the case due to an ongoing investigation.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany