‘Isis leader who beheaded imam and ordered dozens of killings’ on trial in Hungary

Andy Gregory
Syrian man identified as F Hassan, who is on trial for alleged terrorist activities, arrives at the Metropolitan Court in Budapest: EPA/Zsolt Szigetvary Hungary Out

A suspected Isis military leader is on trial in a Hungarian court, accused of terrorism and crimes against humanity.

The 27-year-old Syrian, identified as F Hassan, was charged in September after an international investigation led to his capture in Budapest’s main airport at the end of last year.

Mr Hassan deserted from the Syrian army in 2011, then joined Isis sometime before 2014, prosecutor Andras Urbanyi told the court. He became commander of an Isis unit and actively recruited members, Mr Urbanyi said.

He allegedly participated in the murder of dozens of people near the city of Homs in 2015.

“In May 2015 Hassan’s unit was ordered to capture an area rich in artefacts near Homs,” Mr Urbanyi said. “Hassan was to draw up a death list, naming those to be executed out of revenge or to intimidate locals. The list was approved by Isis leaders.”

His brigade went door to door, pulling and murdering individuals on the list either with gunshots or knifing, Mr Urbanyi said. Others were forced to gather at the town’s main square.

“At the square they were forced to witness an execution. The local imam was beheaded. Hassan and an accomplice severed the imam’s head with long, seesawing motions, then held up his head to the crowd.”

Six women and one child were among at least 25 people killed by the militants.

Mr Hassan, cuffed on his hands and feet and accompanied by a dozen heavily armed counter-terrorism agents, gave a detailed testimony of his upbringing, family and his subsequent migration to Europe.

He denied involvement in the crimes, claiming not to have been in Syria when they took place.

“Your honour, I committed nothing, I just want my family,” he told judge Gergely Miko. “I was not even in Syria in 2015. I was in Turkey, never to return to Syria.”

Mr Hassan's father told the court that his son had been jailed in Syria for refusing to join Isis.

His attorney, Janos Kelen, echoed Mr Hassan's claim that his client was not in Syria at the time of the incidents, asserting that Mr Hassan was illiterate and incapable of leading units and organise killings.

Mr Kelen disputed that a video of the execution, shown in court, featured Mr Hassan. Witnesses did not personally see the atrocities, he said, while a lie detector test was conducted illegally, without a defence attorney.

The lawyer said Mr Hassan had tried to kill himself while in prison. Mr Hassan claimed he had been mistreated by police and feared being poisoned.

Mr Hassan had obtained refugee status in Greece, before being apprehended in December at Budapest's Ferenc Liszt International Airport when he and a female companion were found to have forged personal IDs.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more

What to do with former Isis members is a problem that isn’t going away

How Baghdadi’s death could breathe new life into Isis

British fighter who battled Isis in Syria jailed for four years

Isis names new leader after death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

How Baghdadi was caught after years in hiding