In the trial of the November 13 attacks, the Special Jury Court in Paris continues to hear Belgian investigators. Belgium, where most of the terrorists came from. On Thursday December 2, a police officer came to profile Osama Atar, the only defendant on trial for ” leading a terrorist organisation “. He is the alleged mastermind of the attacks and is believed to have died in Syria in late 2017.
When Osama Atar travelled to Syria for the first time, he was only 17 years old. It is the year 2001. The school dropout spends a month on holiday. Two years later, he returned to learn Arabic, then joined Al-Qaeda in Iraq and met the Syrian Abu Mohammed Al-Adnani, later the number two of the Islamic State (IS) group.
In 2005, Osama Atar is arrested. He spends several years in prison, including Abu Ghraib. His family, with the support of the Belgian authorities and NGOs, organises a campaign for his repatriation, as he is allegedly seriously ill.
Osama Atar returns in 2012 and is charged with terrorism. However, he is not particularly monitored. Worse, he is given a passport. At the end of 2013, he returned to Syria, where he became head of IS’s foreign operations cell, Copex, and masterminded the attacks in Paris and Brussels.
“Did the Belgian authorities want to make him an informer? A double agent?” the prosecution asked. “I don’t know,” repeated the investigator. The lawyers for the joint plaintiffs and the defence speak up again. Finally, the chairman intervenes: “There were loopholes. That is for sure, but we are not here to judge the Belgian police officers. RFI
On February 21. 2005, he was arrested by the Americans when he had just crossed the Iraqi-Syrian border without a passport or visa. He was imprisoned and sentenced to life imprisonment, which was reduced to ten years in May 2007. “When he was arrested, he was accompanied by jihadists and was injured,” reports André Jacob, former head of the anti-terrorism department of the Sûreté de l’Etat (State Security). RTL.be
Subsequently, with the support of Amnesty International and several Belgian parliamentarians from the Ecolo, CDH and PS parties (including Zoé Genot, Jamal Ikazban and Ahmed El Khannouss), a campaign called ” Save Osama ” was organised, portraying him as not being cared for in Iraqi prisons and calling for his repatriation on health grounds. The US ambassador to Belgium even intervened in writing to expedite his return to Brussels. Atar was finally released in 2012 after serving three quarters of his sentence. After his release in September 2012, he returned to Belgium. Wikipedia
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