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Now 47-year-old Abu Khuder (nom de guerre) has lived in the Netherlands since 2014. He was granted a temporary asylum permit there after fleeing Syria.
In 2012, Abu Khuder stated in an interview for The Guardian that in the beginning of the conflict (2011), he worked as an officer in a Syrian border force, the Camel Corps. When the conflict erupted, he joined the Free Syrian Army in its fight against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Subsequently, he radicalized and joined the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra, a group previously linked to Al-Qaeda. He became a commander of al-Nusra’s battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan.
It is alleged that as the commander of the Ghurab’a Mohassan battalion, Abu Khuder participated in an execution of a Syrian lieutenant colonel in July 2012. This accusation is allegedly linked to a video which circulates on the internet and shows a soldier hors de combat being shot dead on the bank of the Euphrates.
According to the announcement by the Dutch federal prosecutor on May 21, Abu Khuder was arrested in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands. Police searched his house and sequestered documents, his computer and a smartphone. The house of a man in Ede who has been allegedly in touch with the suspect, has been searched, too.
Abu Khuder was arrested because of information provided by German police. In Germany, six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided in a simultaneous, coordinated action. German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.
Abu Khuder was brought before an examining judge in The Hague on 24 May 2019 and remains in custody.
In addition to the claims concerning his membership in a terrorist organization, he is also suspected of a war crime of murder of a Syrian lieutenant colonel in July 2012.
The action is part of a response to the increasing level of home-grown radicalism in the Netherlands, a second case prosecuted on the basis of universal jurisdiction there which is linked to Syria.