Syrian war and jihadi-related plots, July 15-30

Netherlands

Samir A. is released from pre-trial detention ahead of his December 10 trial. He had previously been a part of the infamous Hofstad Group and was previously convicted of terrorist activities. He was imprisoned for nine years, including in the high-security terrorist wing of the prison, because of plans to attack. He was released in 2017. He was originally arrested in June 2020 for being involved with fundraising amongst relatives to help free Islamic State women at the al-Hawl camp in northeast Syria. This money would go to smugglers to help them get out of the IDP camp. Apparently, Samir focused on women that remained in IS’s territory until the end, with some allegedly married to different IS leaders. Samir worked with a Syrian from Vlaardingen, Fadi M, who is suspected of running an illegal hawala system. They allegedly raised up to €277,000. They were also assisted by an individual named Bilal L, who had previously been a part of the Hofstad Group top. This network allegedly helped 27 children and ten women get away. Some have returned to Europe, while others are in Idlib in northwest Syria.

Singapore

Mohamed Kazali Salleh, 50, had three charges in a local district court for terror financing. According to reports in The Strait Times, “on three occasions between December 2013 and early 2014, Kazali allegedly provided money to a Malaysian named Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin (Akel Zainal), who apparently was an IS figure in Syria, intending for the money to be used to facilitate terrorist acts in Syria. Akel had previously instructed two Malaysian IS supporters to attack places of worship and police stations in Malaysia in 2019. The plots were foiled and the supporters were arrested in November 2018. Suggesting Akel could have been part of IS’s external operations team. The report goes on to explain “he is accused of handing over RM1,000 to Wan Mohd Aquil at a bus terminal in Johor Bahru. The other two occasions involve Kazali allegedly remitting US$351.75 and RM500 through Western Union in Singapore and in Malaysia respectively.” Kazali, was based in Malaysia, while his crimes occurred and was arrested by Malaysian Special Branch officers in December 2018. He was then deported to Singapore.

Germany

Omaima A., German-Tunisian, 37, who had previously been convicted in German court for being a member of IS, was given additional jail time for using Yezidi slave women to clean her home beginning in 2016. The previous sentence of three-and-a-half years was extended to four years. Omaima is also known for having been married to infamous German jihadi rapper Denis Cuspert (Deso Dogg, Abu Talhah al-Almani). She was originally born in Hamburg. Omaima is believed to have traveled to Syria to join IS with her three children in 2015.

German citizen Leonora M. was also charged with IS membership. According to a governmental press release, on March 6 2015 , Leonora traveled to Syria to join IS. After spending three days in an IS women’s refuge, she was accepted as a member of IS, after she had been registered and married a member working in the IS security apparatus as his third wife. The accused lived in al-Raqqah from the fall of 2015 to June 2017, where she allegedly took part in religious instruction. At the end of 2015, she also took on the task of researching the women of IS fighters for the IS secret service. She was also involved in recruiting a German woman to travel to IS. As part of her work for IS, Leonora received a monthly salary. Leonora’s husband bought a 33-year-old Yazidi women as a slave in order to sell her and her two small children for a profit. Leonora then allegedly nursed the injured Yazidis so that she could be resold at a profit. In addition, Leonora tried to dissuade the damaged Yazidis of the truth of IS’s belief system. The enslaved Yazidi was subsequently sold for a profit. Leonora eventually surrendered to SDF units at the end of January 2019 after IS lost territory and was at various IDP camps until she was brought back to Germany on December 20, 2020.

Austria

An Austrian court sentenced two men to jail over their involvement with IS in Syria. The first individual, who had previously fled to Austria in 2004, and was originally born in Chechnya was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail, while the second person was sentenced to four and a half years. The two individuals left for IS in 2013 with the first person staying there for one-and-a-half years and the second one only staying there for a few months. They had been recruited by Mirsad Omerovic, who had originally been born in Bosnia and considered the nexus point of IS recruitment in Austria. Omerovic is already serving a 20-year prison sentence after a court in 2016 found him guilty of belonging to a terrorist group.

Russia

Anisa Arabieva (previously Anna Molchanova), 23, was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of recruiting terrorists to fight in Syria. Arabieva, a resident of Moscow, was recruiting Russians to join the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusrah. One individual was the Chechen native Zulikhan Magomadova whose departure was prevented by Russian security. In 2011, Arabieva converted to Islam following tragic circumstances in her life.

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