Germany Arrests 4 Former ISIS Fighters in Less Than a Week in Separate Cases
Four former ISIS fighters -- a Chechen in Bremen, two Iraqis in Berlin, and a Syrian arrested Schleswig-Holstein -- were arrested in Germany within the past week.
And these arrests come just days before Germany's general election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door immigration policies are up for review by the voters.
These arrests also come as thousands of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq are retreating to their home countries after stinging defeats imposed by U.S.-led coalition forces and the Syrian army.
Bremen: A 28-year old Chechen man, Aslanbek S., was arrested on September 13 with a Chechen woman (presumably his wife) after a months-long investigation. Prosecutors allege he fought with ISIS in Syria.
Berlin: Two men, 31-year old Iraqi Raad Riyadh A.A. and 19-year old Iraqi Abbas R., were arrested on September 15. According to federal prosecutors, Raad Riyadh executed two Shi'ite women in Mosul and later executed an Iraqi officer. He arrived in Germany on July 31, 2015, and then tried to recruit two suicide bombers. Abbas R. is accused of participating in the same executions and committing war crimes.
Schleswig-Holstein: A Syrian man, Majed A., took up arms against the Assad regime in 2013, fighting first with al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, later shifting to Ahrar al-Sham, and then joining ISIS in Raqqa in 2014. Federal prosecutors allege that he was tasked by ISIS to travel to Europe, and he arrived in Germany on August 10, 2015.
The former ISIS fighters in these cases had been in Germany for several years.
In the Bremen case, according to the Weser Kurier, the arrested Chechen man is part of a larger cell in Bremen of 10-20 ISIS supporters made up of Chechens and German nationals. Since 2014, 28 people have left Bremen to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Earlier this month Der Spiegel reported that nearly 60 former fighters with a Syrian militia, Owais al-Qorani Brigade, which was allied with both Al-Qaeda and ISIS, had sought asylum in Germany after committing large-scale massacres of civilians:
The Spiegel report, citing security agencies, said the group's members had participated in "numerous massacres of captured civilians and Syrian soldiers." At least 300 people were killed in such massacre.
German security agencies have reportedly set up a special task force to investigate the group's members in Germany.
Some 25 former fighters are being investigated, but another 30 unconfirmed members are believed to be in the country, the magazine reported.
One of the members mentioned by Spiegel is a former commander who arrived in the northern German city of Bremen in 2014. He allegedly took part in a massacre at a garbage dump that killed 36 policemen, administrative workers and military officials, and included beheadings.