Germany announced the arrest of a Syrian national “on strong suspicion of committing war crimes against humanity in Syria” between 2012 and 2015.
German prosecutors said in a statement on August 3 that the suspect identified as “Ahmad H.” worked as a local commander of the “Shabiha” militia integrated into the National Defense Militia in the Damascene neighborhood of Tadamon, according to “Info Migrants” website.
The date on which the suspect arrived in Germany is not known. “Ahmad H.” owns a food restaurant in the German city of Bremen, and he has projects and funds there.
According to the German prosecution, the accused, “Ahmad H.”, participated in violations against Syrian civilians on various occasions.
In one incident in 2013, he slapped a man detained by the militia in the face and ordered other members of the group to brutally beat the detainee with plastic pipes for hours.
In the fall of 2014, “Ahmad H.,” along with militiamen and other employees of the Syrian Military Intelligence, punched and kicked a civilian at a checkpoint in the Tadamon neighborhood in southern Damascus. He also grabbed the victim’s hair and hit his head on the sidewalk, then tied him up before the militia killed him.
Between December 2012 and the beginning of 2015, the accused arrested 25 to 30 people at a checkpoint in two incidents and forced them for a day to transport sandbags to the nearby front line, according to the German statement.
The German arrest warrant against the suspect of war crimes against humanity came based on an investigation and information provided by the “Syria Justice & Accountability Centre (SJAC),” a human rights center based in Washington.
SJAC said in a statement, on Friday, August 4, that in May 2020 it received a tip from a witness that one of the perpetrators who allegedly committed horrible violations during his service in the National Defense Militia that was active in the Tadamon area is living in Germany.
The suspect, named “Ahmad H.”, nicknamed “The Trix (Bulldozer),” had traveled from Syria to Germany and sought asylum there, and has been hiding there.
After that, SJAC began the process of gathering available data, searching for relevant witnesses, and sifted through open-source evidence. SJAC was able to find two relevant witnesses and collected their testimonies.
In early 2022, SJAC informed the Special Unit at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) about the suspect and shared the relevant data with them.
In 2023, SJAC obtained video evidence showing the suspect participating in violations, which prompted the German prosecution to issue an arrest warrant against him during the past days.
This step by Germany comes as part of a series of previous steps that targeted Syrian individuals who were proven to have been involved in the Syrian regime’s militias, and their involvement over the years of the war in carrying out crimes of torture, kidnappings and killings against opponents.
The National Defense Militia worked on behalf of the Syrian regime, along with Branch 227 of the Syrian Military Intelligence, to suppress opposition movements, and regularly arbitrarily arrested people, in order to extort money from their families.
Over the past three years, Germany has played a leading role in prosecuting Syrian war criminals under universal jurisdiction laws, which allow courts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.