Belgium's 'executioner of Raqqa' demands to be repatriated, tried in Belgium

Belgium's 'executioner of Raqqa' demands to be repatriated, tried in Belgium
Credit: © Belga

A captured Belgian jihadist nicknamed the executioner of Raqqa and suspected of financing the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris has asked to be tried and convicted in Belgium.

Anouar Haddouchi, who travelled to Syria with his family in 2014 to join the Islamic State (IS), has been held in the north of the country for over six months, after being captured in the aftermath of IS' collapse in the region.

Interviewed by Kurdish news outlet ANF News, Haddouchi, 35, said he should be brought back to Belgium for his trial and eventual conviction.

While he acknowledged that he had no power over where he would be tried, he said: "I am a Belgian citizen and would like to return there with my family. If I am convicted, then it should be in Belgium."

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Although he has denied it, Haddouchi is said to have carried out hundreds of public beheadings in the city of Raqqa, one of the last bastions of the IS, earning him the nickname "the executioner of Raqqa."

Federal prosecutors have been investigating Haddouchi's suspected involvement in the terrorist onslaught that bloodied Paris in 2015 and Brussels in 2016, after the ministry of finance found he had transferred thousands of euros to Mohamed Abrini, a central suspect in both terror attacks.

Haddouchi's calls to be prosecuted for his crimes in his home country echo those of the U.S. and the Kurdish militias it backed throughout the war against the IS in Syria.

But Belgium's foreign ministry has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to those calls, saying its foreign jihadist fighters must be tried in the war-torn region or by an international tribunal.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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