NEWS

Asylum seeker in custody in Greece after allegedly admitting to ISIS membership

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Terrorism, Migration

The Greek Police (ELAS) is investigating the possible connections of a 32-year-old Syrian man to radical Islamist groups after he allegedly confessed to involvement in ISIS and other terrorist organizations following his arrest in Alexandroupoli.

The 32-year-old had been visiting the northeastern city to check on the progress of his asylum application when he was arrested on Thursday.

According to police sources, he admitted to membership of ISIS but, when detained on charges of belonging to a terrorism organization, tried to hang himself in a police cell by fashioning a blanket into a noose. He was hospitalized briefly for shock before being returned to custody.

He faced a prosecutor Friday.

Greek authorities were led to his arrest by his wife, who reported him for alleged domestic abuse in September and then subsequently accused him of being a terrorist.

Police sources say the 32-year-old had already been flagged by Greek and foreign special services after claiming during his asylum application hearing that he had been involved with militant groups in Syria and that his life would be at risk if he returned to the war-torn country.

They added that he was not currently considered high risk but that his case was being monitored closely.

He, his wife and two children had reached Greece last year, arriving on the Aegean island of Leros in June 2016. They have been living in Thessaloniki at a refugee camp but have also stayed at an apartment in Athens, according to media reports.

Police sources said they were examining videos and photographs on the suspect’s telephone that appear to show ISIS militants torturing and executing victims. Investigators have yet to determine whether the suspect is simply an admirer of ISIS or has actual connections to cells and members of the group and involvement in their activities and attacks.

Sources at ELAS said the force’s counterterrorism department has joined the investigation, adding that Greek authorities are exchanging information with several other European countries in a bid to determine whether the suspect poses a terrorist threat.

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