Syrian ‘hero migrants’ deserve medals: German politicians

Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere and head of the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees Frank-Juergen Weise hold a press conference regarding the numbers of asylum seeker for September 2016 as well as the third quarter 2016 in the Federal press conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 12 October 2016

Syrian ‘hero migrants’ deserve medals: German politicians

BERLIN: Two Syrian refugees should get medals for their bravery after capturing a fellow migrant suspected of planning to bomb a Berlin airport, German politicians said on Wednesday.
The actions of the two men, who tied up the suspect in a Leipzig apartment and alerted police, have been seized on as a rare good news story in the midst of the migration crisis facing Germany and Europe.
“The young men have earned the Federal Cross of Merit,” Social Democrat defense expert Johannes Kahrs told Bild newspaper, adding they had shown a profound respect toward Germans. “It is hard to imagine more integration, it is exemplary,” he said.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the fact they had acted to assist the security authorities, regardless of the risk to their own safety, deserved to be “fully recognized and appreciated.”
Maiziere said Germany registered 213,000 asylum seeker arrivals in the year’s first nine months, a sharp slowdown from the record influx of 2015.
Migrants’ influx to Germany has raised fears about security, especially after migrants were involved in bomb, knife and machete attacks in July. Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn criticism from her own conservative camp and shed support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany.
Investigators believe Syrian Jaber Albakr, 22, who arrived in Germany last year, was close to staging an attack comparable to those that killed 130 people in Paris
last November and 32 in Belgium in March. They suspect he was inspired by the Daesh terror group.
His fellow-Syrians picked him up at Leipzig train station after he contacted an online network for Syrian refugees. After recognizing him from pictures on Facebook as the target of a police manhunt, they overpowered him and alerted the authorities.
“He resisted a little bit, he didn’t want to be tied up and then he said, ‘I will give you money, don’t turn me in. I got into this by mistake.’ But of course we didn’t agree,” one of his captors, Mohamed, told RTL German television.
“We respect this country and its people, its government and its laws. We don’t want something like this to happen here,” he said.
The manner of Albakr’s arrest has led to renewed calls for a review of all migrants who were granted asylum in last year’s influx. It has also raised questions about whether the police botched an earlier attempt to arrest him.
Bild showed a picture of Albakr on a sofa in the Leipzig apartment with his ankles bound by an electric cable and one of the migrants holding him in a headlock. “Why didn’t the police manage that?” it asked.


Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

Updated 38 min 49 sec ago

Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

  • Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez
  • Rifaat Assad is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets

MADRID: Spain is heading toward a money laundering trial against an uncle of Syrian president Bashar Assad, the High Court said on Friday, after an investigating judge finished his probe.
The prosecuting office has ten days to comment on the judge’s recommendation that the case goes ahead, which is considered a formality, after which a trial start date will be set, the court said.
Two years ago, the High Court confiscated over €600 million ($663.24 million) of assets thought to be linked to Rifaat Assad.
He is a former military commander, widely held responsible for crushing an uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.
Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez. He now lives in exile between France and Britain.
He is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets.