Convicted jihadist was "only taking selfies" with fighter jets at Dutch air base

Wail el A., the convicted jihadist from Arnhem  last week, was only taking selfies with the fighter jets, his lawyer Francoise Landerloo said to AD. He had no idea that he was doing anything wrong. Others from his work team also took pictures, the lawyer said.

19-year-old El A. was convicted as a jihadist last year and sentenced to two years in prison. The court considered it proven that El A. and a friend tried to travel to Syria in 2015 to join terrorist organization ISIS. They were detained at the Turkish-Syrian border. El A. insisted that he was at the border to help a friend trying to leave Syria. 

El A. was released from prison a few months ago. Last week he was arrested at the air base, where he was working with a construction company. He was released after two days when the judiciary determined he committed no criminal offense.

"My client works through a temporary employment agency." the lawyer explained to the newspaper. He received a call that a construction company needed someone because one of their employees was ill. Only when arriving for work the next morning did he realize it was at the air base. He was a bit worried, but figured that if he was not allowed to be there someone would say something. His ID was checked at the gate, along with his coworkers', and he went to work digging slots next to the runways with his work team.

"F-16s came along. In the break Wail took selfies with such a plane. And an audio recording of the noise. A boy of 19 thinks that's cool. His colleagues did so too. No one said they weren't allowed." Later in the day the Marechaussee realized that the construction workers took photos and ordered them to delete them - photos are forbidden on the military base. But for El A. it did not end there. "He was told he was arrested for preparing a terrorist offense. Apparently they realized his past through his ID."

Landerloo calls the arrest complete nonsense. "He meant no harm. If there were any indications of that, he would not have been released after only two days."