Iraqi refugee held in France on suspicion of Daesh ‘war crimes’

An Iraqi man cries over body-bags containing the remains of people believed to have been slain by Daesh at the Speicher camp in Tikrit, Iraq. An Iraqi refugee in France has been arrested in Paris and indicted over his alleged involvement in the massacre. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2018
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Iraqi refugee held in France on suspicion of Daesh ‘war crimes’

  • A 33-year-old man is accused of having participated in the June 2014 capture and execution of an estimated 1,700 young, mainly Shiite army recruits from the Speicher military camp.
  • Ahmed H was arrested in March and indicted days later on a range of charges including “killings in connection with a terrorist group” and “war crimes,” and placed in pre-trial detention.

PARIS: An Iraqi refugee in France thought to be a former senior member of Daesh has been arrested in Paris and indicted on suspicion of “war crimes” over his alleged involvement in a massacre in his country.
The 33-year-old man, referred to as Ahmed H, is accused of having participated in the June 2014 capture and execution of an estimated 1,700 young, mainly Shiite army recruits from the Speicher military camp to the north of Tikrit.
Ahmed H was arrested in March and indicted days later on a range of charges including “killings in connection with a terrorist group” and “war crimes,” and placed in pre-trial detention, the Paris prosecutor said.
The case highlights fears by Western intelligence agencies that extremists have been able to take advantage of the migrant crisis to enter Europe.
Having arrived in France in the summer of 2016 Ahmed H obtained refugee status a year later and was given a 10-year resident card, a source close to the investigation told AFP on Thursday.
Shortly after being granted his refugee status, Ahmed H was identified and followed by intelligence services, who then notified judicial authorities.
According to a source close to the investigation, Ahmed H has denied any involvement.
French authorities have revoked his protected status since his incarceration.
His lawyer Mohamed El Monsaf Hamdi did not want to comment immediately when contacted by AFP.
The Camp Speicher massacre was considered one of Daesh’s worst crimes after it took over large parts of Iraq in 2014.
One of the sites of the massacre was the former river police building inside former president Saddam Hussein’s palace complex in Tikrit.
Video footage subsequently released by Daesh showed an assembly-line massacre in which gunmen herded their victims toward the quay, shot them in the back of the head and pushed them in the water one after the other.


White House threatens to veto aid bill for migrant families

Updated 48 min 38 sec ago
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White House threatens to veto aid bill for migrant families

  • Hispanic and liberal Democrats press House leaders to add provisions to the legislation strengthening protections for migrant children
  • Many House Democrats say the Senate version’s provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough

WASHINGTON: The White House is threatening to veto a $4.5 billion House bill aimed at improving the treatment of migrant families detained after crossing the US southern border, saying the measure would hamstring the administration’s border security efforts and raising fresh questions about the legislation’s fate.
The warning came as Hispanic and liberal Democrats press House leaders to add provisions to the legislation strengthening protections for migrant children, changes that might make the measure even less palatable to President Donald Trump. Though revisions are possible, House leaders are still hoping for approval as early as Tuesday.
The Senate planned to vote this week on similar legislation that has bipartisan backing, but many House Democrats say the Senate version’s provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough. House Democrats seeking changes met late Monday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Right now, the goal is really to stop — one death is just too much,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., as he left that meeting.
Many children detained entering the US from Mexico have been held under harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency’s care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.
Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess. While lawmakers don’t want to depart without acting on the legislation for fear of being accused of not responding to humanitarian problems at the border, it seems unlikely that Congress would have time to send a House-Senate compromise to Trump by week’s end.
In a letter Monday threatening the veto, White House officials told lawmakers they objected that the House package lacked money for beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to let it detain more migrants. Officials also complained in the letter that the bill had no money to toughen border security, including funds for building Trump’s proposed border wall.
“Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its passage,” the letter said.
Several Democrats said some language they were seeking could end up in separate legislation. Several said changes might include provisions aimed at ensuring that detained children are treated humanely.
“We’ve got lives at stake,” said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif. He said the US has been “the gold standard” for treating refugees fleeing dangerous countries, “and I don’t think we should compromise that at all.”
The meeting may have helped ease Democratic complaints. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters before the meeting that she would oppose the bill but left the door open afterward, saying, “I oppose the situation we’re in, but my main goal is to keep kids from dying.”
Much of the legislation’s money would help care for migrants at a time when federal officials say their agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of migrants and are running out of funds.
The back-and-forth on the spending measure came as Congress’ top Democrats criticized Trump for threatening coast-to-coast deportations of migrants.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that he would give Congress two weeks to solve “the Asylum and Loopholes problems” along the border with Mexico. “If not, Deportations start!” he tweeted.
The president had earlier warned that there would soon be a nationwide sweep aimed at “millions” of people living illegally in the US, including families. The sweeps were supposed to begin Sunday, but Trump said he postponed them.
Pelosi, D-Calif., said the threatened raids were “appalling” when she was asked about them at an immigration event Monday in Queens, New York.
“It is outside the circle of civilized human behavior, just kicking down doors, splitting up families and the rest of that in addition to the injustices that are happening at the border,” she said.
On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described Trump’s “chilling, nasty, obnoxious threats” and said the president “seems far more comfortable terrorizing immigrant families” than addressing immigration problems.
“I mean, my God, to threaten separating children from their parents as a bargaining chip? That’s the very definition of callousness,” Schumer said.
It is not clear exactly what Trump, who has started his 2020 re-election bid, means regarding asylum and loophole changes. He’s long been trying to restrict the numbers of people being allowed to enter the US after claiming asylum and impose other restrictions, a path he’s followed since he began his quest for president years ago. His threatened deportations came as authorities have been overwhelmed by a huge increase of migrants crossing the border into the US in recent months.
For years, Democrats and Republicans have unable to find middle ground on immigration that can pass Congress. It seems unlikely they will suddenly find a solution within two weeks.