Germany arrests two Syrians over Al Nusra execution video

Authorities accuse Syrian men of supporting Al Qaeda-affiliated group amid growing hope Assad allies could also face justice in German courts

Powered by automated translation

Two Syrians have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of executing a soldier and for supporting Jabhat Al Nusra when the group was affiliated with Al Qaeda during the civil war in Syria.

Khedr AK is suspected of having joined the Ghurabaa Muhassan group before July 2012, which was part of Jabhat Al Nusra.

Sami AS allegedly supported the group, which was designated as a terrorist organisation by the UAE in 2014.

The men are accused of having "jointly killed a person protected under international humanitarian law", prosecutors said.

Khedr AK is alleged to have been involved in the execution of a captured lieutenant colonel in the Syrian Army on June 10, 2012, along with other members of the terrorist group.

He allegedly guarded the handcuffed prisoner, who had been severely tortured, on the way to the execution site in Muhassan, in eastern Syria, where he was then shot.

Sami AS is accused of making a video of the execution, on which he can allegedly be heard praising the soldier being killed “in a glorifying manner”, and then releasing the footage for propaganda purposes.

It comes as Germany continues its prosecution of abuses committed during the Syrian civil war on all sides of the conflict.

The two were detained in Naumburg and Essen on Monday morning and had their homes searched. They appeared before a federal judge on Monday and are now in custody.

It is

unclear when they entered Germany.

Jabhat Al Nusra has since evolved and merged with other hardline groups to form Hayat Tahrir Al Sham. The latter rejects accusations it is affiliated with Al Qaeda, but its leader, Abu Mohammad Al-Julani, remains one of the world’s most wanted men.

Almost 800,000 Syrian refugees arrived in Germany in 2015 as the country opened its doors during the European migrant crisis in a move that has since become among the most contentious in German politics.

The large number of Syrians fleeing the civil war that broke out in 2011 has led to the arrest and trial in Germany of those believed to have committed crimes during the conflict.

This includes not only members of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates but also Syrian regime officials.

In January, a 31-year-old Syrian was sentenced to life in jail in Germany for killing two people and overseeing the murder of at least 17 others in north Syria while part of Jabhat Al Nusra in 2013. He had arrived in Germany as a refugee.

A landmark trial of two former Syrian intelligence officials in the city of Koblenz on crimes against humanity has sparked hope that allies of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad will see justice for the vast array of crimes they are believed to have committed.

In June, a Syrian doctor living in Germany was arrested on suspicion of crimes against humanity in his country of origin while employed by Syria’s notorious secret service. He is alleged to have been involved in the torture of an inmate in at last two instances. The man left Syria in mid 2015 and entered Germany, where he had been working as a doctor.

Alleged former ISIS members have also been detained. The German-Tunisian Omaima Abdi, who lived in Hamburg, is on trial for crimes against humanity and enslaving a 13-year-old Yazidi girl.