Syrian jihadist Samir A. will be released on parole pending the trial in December, the Dutch Schiphol court decided on Thursday. After more than a year in custody, there are no longer any reasons to detain him.
The Rotterdam jihadist Samir A. is part of the terrorist organization IS. That is what the Public Prosecution Service stated in the court at Schiphol on Thursday. By raising money for Dutch IS women in Kurdish camps, according to justice, he is helping the defeated caliphate achieve its goal: to continue the war with children as new fighters.
As far as justice is concerned, he will go straight back to prison in December. With the extra suspicion of participation in a terrorist organization, the Public Prosecution Service is focusing even more heavily on the case against Samir A. Since his arrest in June last year, he has been on trial for collecting money from relatives to get at least fourteen IS women out of the country. Kurdish prison camps. Samir called his project 'Prison Break'. People smugglers were paid with that money, so that a group of Dutch IS women could indeed escape from the camp.
According to the judiciary, Samir has thus responded to the call from the IS summit to liberate women and children. “That call was linked to the future of IS. In this way, the boys are portrayed as fighters for the future," says the public prosecutor.
“The suspect is a spider's web of smuggling IS women, with a network throughout Europe. He did it professionally, and had even already designated a successor. He mainly targeted women who remained in the caliphate until the end, some of whom were married to IS leaders.”
Samir received help from a Syrian from Vlaardingen, Fadi M. He is suspected of underground 'hawala banking'. The illegally channeled amounts of money amounted to 277,000 euros. From Samir he received more than a ton, for which Fadi M. received a commission. He is being prosecuted for participating in a criminal organization. "He knew exactly how the fork was," said the Public Prosecution Service.
Samir A. thinks he has done nothing wrong, he has only provided humanitarian aid to women and children. "These are children who are in danger of life," Samir told De Telegraaf last year about the purpose of the collection, which he did together with fellow Hofstad group member Bilal L. The duo spoke openly with this newspaper and NRC last year about their large-scale fundraising plans.
Prison break not illegal
Attorney Tamara Buruma also says that Prison Break was not illegal and that Samir did not participate in IS at all. According to her, he simply did what the Netherlands has failed to do to date: bring women and children to safety from the appalling conditions in the camps. Samir helped 27 children and ten women get away. Some have returned to Europe and in doing so go against the directive of IS, says Buruma. Another part of the women is in Idlib, in north-western Syria.
Buruma also quotes from a hearing with the AIVD intelligence service, which stated that the majority of those liberated women pose no threat. They have a limited role within IS, do not want to return and are psychologically bad. "There is no indication that Samir wanted to bring the women back to IS," says Buruma.
Former member of the Hofstad group
Samir A. says that this case revolves around the question of whether it is a criminal offense to help women who are on the terrorism sanctions list. “I wanted to avoid suffering. You can find all kinds of things about the mothers, whether they deserve punishment, that's not my concern. I wonder if we should let children die because their mothers are on the terrorist list. I do not think so. I think it is false that the Public Prosecution Service is now suddenly accusing me of membership of a terrorist organization after a year. I don't feel connected to IS. It is they who are responsible for those terrible conditions there. I endorse some of their ideologies, but that doesn't mean I'm pro-IS, any more than a social democrat supports the Khmer Rouge."
Samir A. is the most famous jihadist in the Netherlands, a former member of the so-called Hofstad group and 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. The case will go to court on December 10.