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

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.


Taliban ‘ready to fight’ if US unwilling to talk

Updated 15 September 2019

Taliban ‘ready to fight’ if US unwilling to talk

  • A member of a Taliban delegation visiting Moscow said the group would be interested in resuming dialogue if the US also showed interest

KABUL: The Taliban is ready to fight for “100 years” if the US is unwilling to revive peace talks, one of its representatives warned, days after President Donald Trump announced that negotiations with the militant group were over.

Talks to end the 18-year conflict screeched to a halt after Trump said he had canceled an unprecedented meeting with the group’s representatives at Camp David, and said the peace process was over after a US soldier was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.

His remarkable tweets caused chaos and confusion in diplomatic circles. The tweets also caused alarm among those engaged in or following the already-fraught peace process.

A member of a Taliban delegation visiting Moscow said the group would be interested in resuming dialogue if the US also showed interest, but he also issued a warning.

“We are still committed, we want peace in Afghanistan, we want to give a safe passage for the foreign troops to go from Afghanistan,” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai told Russian TV station RT. “If the American side is not willing (for) negotiations … we will be compelled to defend ourselves even if it continues for 100 years.” 

Abbas has taken part in at least nine rounds of talks with US diplomats in Qatar since last year. He accused Trump of not signing a treaty with the Taliban because the group had refused to meet him before it signed an agreement.

He said the Taliban had agreed to allow for the safe passage of US troops and to enforce a truce in areas from where the US planned to withdraw. The Taliban was also planning to meet the Afghan side on Sept. 23 to discuss a nationwide cease-fire and the political setup of a future government, he added.

Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, tweeted that Abbas’ remarks showed the group remained uninterested in talks.

“This time the Taliban raised their voice from Moscow and say that (they) will continue in (the) killing of Afghans; the Afghan security forces are waiting for you.”

Russia is one of the regional powers to have forged closer ties with its former foe, the Taliban, which has made gains in Afghanistan despite an increased presence of US troops. The Taliban and Russia both want a complete withdrawal of US-led forces from the country.

BACKGROUND

Talks to end the 18-year conflict screeched to a halt after Trump said he had canceled an unprecedented meeting with the group’s representatives at Camp David, and said the peace process was over after a US soldier was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office, told Arab News the group would explain its position to “friends and allies about (Trump’s) unexpected, abrupt and unjustified” cancelation of peace talks.

He added that the group could meet officials of several countries “who were also astonished by Trump’s decision” since the agreement was achieved after nearly a year of negotiations.

Waheed Mozhdah, a political analyst who knows the Taliban leaders, said the Moscow trip was part of a campaign to show the insurgents were keen to negotiate even if the US was not.

“The Taliban will have similar trips to other countries, such as China, Iran and elsewhere to say that they are ready to sign a peace deal with the Americans,” he told Arab News. “These trips will have an impact because the Taliban will argue that if Washington does not want to sign a deal, then it has other agendas, to remain in Afghanistan and cause danger for the region.”

He said the US had two options. The first was to step up the war against the Taliban, which it had done previously to little effect, and the second was to resume talks.

Mohammad Nateqi, a former diplomat, told Arab News the Moscow trip and visits within the region would also be fruitful for the start of an Afghan intra-dialogue. He said the Taliban’s move was part of its “increasing political activities and to show that if the US ceases talks, then it is after other powers to work for a peace plan.”