The Brussels Correctional Court on Friday sentenced three Belgian jihadis to 5 and 10 years in prison. The men were part of the first wave of jihadis who left Belgium to go and fight in Syria, where they still are. At least one of them, Hamsa Nmili, was captured in September 2017 by Kurdish combatants. He gave an interview to VRT journalist Rudi Vranckx in November 2018.
Nmili, who is from Vilvoorde, became radicalised under the influence of the Islamist group Sharia4Belgium and left in June 2013 for Syria, where he joined other jihadists from Vilvoorde, Brussels and Antwerp, who had left Belgium in 2012.
He first joined Ansar Al-Sharia, a coalition of Jihadist militias that tried to take Aleppo, then under the control of Bashar Al-Assad’s army, with the intention of installing Sharia law there. However, he soon joined the ranks of Islamic State (ISIS). In September 2017, he was caught by Kurdish fighters, who imprisoned him in Syria.
The three suspects were charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group.
Hamsa Nmili was sentenced along with another man, Ouhabi Mohssine, to a five-year prison term. The Court was tougher on the third defendant, Azeddine Kbir Bounekoub, who had already been sentenced to 15 years in jail at a 2015 trial against Sharia4Belgium. The Antwerp Correctional Court felt at the time that in Syria he had been the right-hand man of notorious Vilvoorde jihadi Houssein Elouassaki, who did not survive the war.
The Brussels Correctional Court sentenced Bounekoub to 10 years in prison.
It also ordered the immediate arrest of the three men.