Following the trail of Islamic State money in Greece

An investigation by the Anti-Terrorism Service into financing jihad and specifically the Islamic State resulted in 13 arrest warrants for foreigners, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, who now live or have lived in Greece in recent years.

According to information provided to the Greek edition cathimerinithe undercover operation began in 2018, in cooperation with the Paris anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office, and the first of the previously issued warrants was executed on New Year’s Eve 2022, when a Spaniard of Syrian origin was arrested in the center of Athens.

Abdulsalam, 36, has been living in Greece for more than ten years, and until the trial, which took place on June 1, 2022, he was in pre-trial detention in the Athens penal colony ΓΑΔΑ, after which he ended up in Korydallos prison. Finally, a three-member Court of Criminal Appeal found him not guilty on charges of financing terrorism. Orders for the remaining 12 foreigners are still outstanding.

Meeting in The Hague

The case was opened in November 2018 when officials from 14 member countries met at the Eurojust headquarters in The Hague EU. The purpose of this closed meeting was to coordinate a joint investigation into the financing of international terrorism. In fact, this was a continuation of the investigations launched after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Cannes in 2015-2016.

Court documents obtained by K said, in part, “the existence of financial flows to Syria through Turkey and Lebanon, as well as the identification of individuals who collected this money so that it eventually fell into the hands of foreign fighters in Syria “.

As is easy to understand, the central role in the investigation was played by the Internal Security Directorate of the French Interior Ministry, whose employees told the Greek police that of all suspicious financial transactions, approximately 1% occurred in Greece. 14 transactions were made, the senders of which were 13 foreigners. Among them was Abdulsalam, a Spanish passport holder who was born in the Syrian city of Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold.

An anti-terrorism investigation into private money transfer companies and the Greek Post Office found that a 36-year-old man sent 13,500 euros to Germany, Serbia, Turkey, Austria and the Netherlands in 2014-2015 and received a total of 5300 euros from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One of these transactions was of criminal investigation interest, as a result of which he became accused of financing terrorism. It was about sending 829 euros to a person named Mohammad A., who was in Turkey. This is because Mohammad, in turn, allegedly facilitated the transfer of money to the French, who left their country and traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State.

In particular, in November 2016, a 42-year-old French woman sent him 820 euros to give them to her sister, one of the so-called “brides of the jihadists”, who left Paris and, together with her son Enzo, went to the ISIS-controlled territories of Syria.

Similar evidence was found for the other 12 foreigners. One of them, a 34-year-old Syrian citizen, was issued a warrant that remains unexecuted because he brokered the transfer of 1,000 euros from a 70-year-old French woman to her son, who since 2013 and at least until recently fought in ranks of the Islamic State. Abdulsalam, the only one arrested so far of 13 foreigners prosecuted, has denied any connection to the Islamic State. He explained his involvement in this case by the fact that he carried out specific transactions with the sole motive – to serve refugees from Syria arriving in Greece without documents. In addition, he has a Spanish passport.

However, in official documents, law enforcement and judiciary use the term “collectors” to refer to those who collected money, mainly in EU countries, to send it to foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, European citizens who left their countries to settle in the self-proclaimed caliphate .

“The fact that a collector at some point received money from a relative of a person involved in terrorism does not in itself mean that anyone who sends money to a collector is in any way involved in terrorism,” said Maria Amarri, a lawyer 36-year-old Abdulsalam, in a note sent to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which consists of three judges. The latter was released immediately after the verdict of the court, which found him not guilty, while the remaining 12 warrants remain outstanding, with some of the persecuted foreigners already leaving Greece for Germany and France.

PS They catch small sixes, but no one touches the main financiers of ISIS. Because they are too important and necessary people.

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