Alleged terrorist group leader planned 2017 attack, ISIS gun trafficking, says prosecutor
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) suspects former Hofstadgroep member Samir A. of asking terrorist organization ISIS for explosives or weapons for an attack in the Netherlands in 2017.
That became clear in the court of Rotterdam on Friday. The 35-year-old A. appeared there with three other men. According to the OM, they collected money for women and children to get away from refugee and detention camps in the former ISIS territory in Syria. The foursome allegedly used a hawala banker. According to the OM, this was financing terrorism.
The OM successfully asked the court to postpone the entire criminal process. According to the prosecutor, new information from the FBI shows that A. had contact with Bilal el Marcochi in 2017. This Belgian man was the leader of the religious police for ISIS in Syria and married to the recently returned jihad bride Ilham B.
During questioning in a Kurdish prison, El Marcochi is said to have acknowledged that he was in contact with A. Recorded telephone conversations between him and A. would prove that. In one of those conversations, A. allegedly "asked for explosives or weapons in disguised terms."
The OM wants to investigate those conversations further. "A. says he has absolutely nothing to do with ISIS and is against the regime. He says he is helping women get away from the regime. That does not seem to match those conversations," said the prosecutor.
A.'s lawyer unsuccessfully opposed postponement. "It is an investigation that got out of hand. The OM is stuck in a swamp but wants to see A. prosecuted for terrorism at all costs," said the lawyer. The lawyer described El Marcochi's statements as "unreliable" because prisoners in Kurdish and Iraqi prisons had been interrogated under "degrading conditions." "The information was obtained illegally."
According to the lawyer, A. and his family are "heavily burdened by the investigation." The Rotterdam resident said he wanted to "close" the whole matter. "As far as I'm concerned, we'll just start."
The substantive trial is scheduled for July. The court gave A. his passport back, and he is now free to travel.