A 37-year-old man suspected of committing war crimes during the civil war in Syria has been arrested in the Netherlands.
The public prosecutor’s office said the man, who claimed asylum in 2019, was a senior figure in the security apparatus of the terrorist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra.
He is alleged to have presided over the abduction, torture and murder of people in a Palestinian refugee camp outside Damascus between 2015 and 2017.
A year after arriving in the Netherlands, he was given leave to remain and moved to Arkel, a town of around 3,000 people 45km west of Rotterdam, where he was arrested on Tuesday.
The Dutch police force’s international crime team and the prosecution service began investigating the man after receiving information about his past.
Neighbours were shocked to learn of the accusations against the man, who they described as a ‘decent man with a wife and two young children’.
Local woman Melanie den Breejen told AD.nl: ‘When they came to live here he introduced himself politely, but I’ve forgotten [his name]. To us he was just the neighbour.
‘We visited them when his baby boy was born. The language barrier was huge, he spoke very broken Dutch and his wife didn’t speak Dutch at all. But I regularly saw her bringing her daughter to and from school.’
‘The accusation is that this man had a leadership role in the security services of the terrorist organisations IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and in that role he is also accused of being involved in the war crimes committed by IS,’ a spokeswoman for the prosecution service said. ‘These crimes are suspected of having taken place in Syria between 2013 and 2018.’
He will appear before an examining magistrate in The Hague on Friday, the prosecution service said in a statement.
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